By CBSLA Staff

MOORPARK (CBSLA) – Moorpark Unified School District became the first in Ventura County to welcome students back to class for in-person instruction for the first time in seven months.

Students return to Moorpark High School in Moorpark, Calif., for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began. Oct. 21, 2020. (CBSLA)

All schools in Ventura County were given permission to reopen for in-person classes beginning Wednesday for grade levels K-12, but only Moorpark decided to do so immediately.

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On Oct. 6, Ventura County was upgraded from the most restricted purple tier to the red tier in California’s coronavirus metric system. The county then had to maintain its positive coronavirus trajectory for two weeks before being allowed to reopen all schools.

However, despite receiving permission to do so, the decision to reopen campuses lies with each individual school district.

Moorpark Unified reopened all its elementary schools Monday and its secondary schools on Wednesday, including Moorpark High.

Students Starla Villa and Kristen Gibbel masked up and had their temperatures taken before their first day at Moorpark High’s campus Wednesday. The freshman jitters were a little different in 2020.

“It’s scary but at the same time exciting,” Villa said.

A classroom at Moorpark High. Oct. 21, 2020. (CBSLA)

“It’s the unknown of everything,” Gibbel said. “We don’t know how long we’ll be in and when everything will be back to normal.”

Moorpark Unified gave parents the choice to have their children remain in a full-time virtual learning mode or return to a hybrid model. About half chose to return to campus. There won’t be COVID-19 testing of students or staff who are on campus.

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“We allowed them to choose whether or not to keep their students at home full time distance learning, or to come back in person for blended learning,” Moorpark Unified Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hays said.

Moorpark High divided those students who returned into morning and afternoon groups that fit into socially distanced classrooms.

“We’re doing synchronous learning,” Moorpark High School principal Carrie Pentis told CBSLA. “So while the students are in person in the classroom live, the students are online, synchronously, so they feel like they are part of the class.”

Other districts are being more cautious. Ojai Unified School District officials told CBSLA Tuesday they are not ready to open quite yet. When Ojai does reopen schools, it will be for elementary schools first.

“In middle and high school kids are taking different classes,” Ojai Unified Superintendent Tiffany Morse said. “We might have to quarantine up to 100 kids, or six teachers, if we have just one case. So, at this point, our system can’t support that, so we’re going to wait.”

Simi Valley Unified, Oxnard and the Oxnard Union High school districts have also not yet reopened campuses.

“In one of our zip codes, we are over 2,000 cases of COVID-19,” Oxnard School District Superintendent Dr. Karling Aguilera-Fort told CBSLA Wednesday.

Under the red tier, Ventura County is allowed it to reopen indoor operations for restaurants, houses of worship, gyms and movie theaters at 10% to 25% capacity.

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Currently, Ventura County is averaging 5.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 2.4%. To be upgraded from red to orange it will need to average less than 3.9 cases per 100,000 and maintain a positivity rate of under 4.9%.