Of the at least 30 schools granted waivers, 24 are private and six are public schools in the Los Alamitos Unified School District.By CBSLA Staff

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – At least 30 elementary schools in Orange County have received permission to reopen their campuses to students as the county continues to slowly trend in the right direction in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The Orange County Health Care Agency reported Thursday that 30 schools had received waivers allowing them to reopen for in-person learning.

Of those 30 schools granted waivers, 24 are private and six are public schools in the Los Alamitos Unified School District.

The 38 counties that are currently on California’s COVID-19 monitoring list due to their high coronavirus case rate are not allowed to reopen schools for in-person instruction unless a waiver is granted by local and state health officials.

However, O.C. Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau reported Thursday that O.C. could come off California’s monitoring list as early as Saturday.

Counties must be the state’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days before all schools in the county can physically reopen. If O.C. was able to meet that threshold, that would mean all schools would be given permission to reopen on Monday, Sept. 7.

However, several districts have already confirmed that when they do reopen, it will be in a hybrid format, with students still learning virtually a few days a week.

RELATED: Ventura County To Allow Elementary Schools To Submit Waivers For In-Person Instruction

For parents still leery of returning students to classrooms, Chau said the county “encourages” them to continue online learning, “especially children who are at a higher risk.”

The county will provide tests for staff and students and a “full medical team” that includes pediatricians, and infectious disease experts from Children’s Hospital of Orange County and UC Irvine “will be standing by to assist when needed,” Chau said.

Wednesday was the first day O.C. fell below the state’s monitoring thresholds, Chau said.

The rate of county residents testing positive for COVID-19 decreased from 5.9% to 5.7%, below the state’s desired threshold of 8%. And the change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients went from -3.9% to -3.3%, which is lower than the state’s threshold.

The county’s case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 98.6 to 96.6, which is still far higher than the California Department of Public Health threshold of 25 per 100,000 residents.

But because that number is under 100 and the positivity rate is below 8%, the county is poised to be taken off the state’s watch list soon under newly outlined metrics, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said Wednesday.

Through Thursday, O.C. has recorded 44,936 coronavirus cases and 856 deaths from the disease.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced back on July 17 that public and private schools in all California counties on the state’s coronavirus monitoring list – which includes Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura – will start the fall semester with distance learning only.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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