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OUSD to continue in-person classes for elementary students for now

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As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Ventura County could slip back to the more restrictive purple tier on the state’s watch list as early as Nov. 17, but more likely Nov. 24.

That would mean that school districts that have not yet reopened for in-person classes would be unable to do so until the county moves again into the less-restrictive red tier and stays there for 14 days.

Ojai Unified School District is allowed to continue in-person classes since it welcomed elementary school students back to campuses on Nov. 2, according to school district and county Public Health officials.

OUSD Superintendent Tiffany Morse wrote to OUSD families and staff Tuesday evening in a letter that reads, in part: “We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our students and staff, and we are closely monitoring the situation. In determining the next steps at this time, we have considered the following:

“In the purple tier, districts were allowed to open elementary schools by applying for a waiver. The waiver process included a robust safety plan, which we have created and implemented already in our Return to Campus plan for elementary, which can be viewed at: https://www.ojaiusd.org/page/return-to-campus.

“According to today's article in the VC Star, of the 36 positive COVID-19 cases reported in Ventura County schools since August, all of the cases are ‘considered community-acquired and not because of an exposure on campus.’

“Although the county may move to the purple tier, the most recent numbers from Ventura County Public Health released today show that as a community Ojai's data is in the yellow tier for the 7-day test positivity rate.

“Based on this information, our elementary schools, Chaparral, and Summit will continue to serve students in their current models with no changes. If the data for Ojai moves to purple or there is new information from VCPH, we will consider returning to full distance learning in all programs.

“Our on-campus activities at Matilija and Nordhoff, including athletics conditioning and practice, will continue. Activities may be modified to adhere to the VCPH cohort guidance for operating in the purple tier.

“It is too early to determine how this will affect Matilija and Nordhoff's return to campus plans and a full return to athletics.

“We deeply appreciate those of you who are helping to keep our staff safe and our schools and programs open by following public health guidance.

“We know that the constant uncertainty is hard on all of our families and staff. We will continue to do our best to make the best decisions possible while providing flexibility whenever we can. Thank you for your trust and patience. “

The Ventura County Office of Education has a Framework for Reopening Ventura County Schools, which can be read at:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Qllk3MCBtnHZJnCq5AbwwhS0Ew0_A7Ox/view

Also, guidance from Ventura County Public Health on COVID-19 and county schools can be viewed at:

https://vcportal.ventura.org/covid19/docs/guidance-templates/FAQ_COVID-19_and_Schools_11-4-2020.pdf

The Ventura County Office of Education issued a press release Tuesday in light of the county’s announcement that it could soon be reverting to the purple tier in the state’s four-tier system to rate the levels of COVID-19 in counties — purple (worst), red, orange, yellow (best).

According to the press release: “Those schools that have not yet reopened will likely have to delay plans to resume in-person instruction if the county goes back to purple.

“If Ventura County does return to the purple tier, schools and districts that had already reopened would be permitted to continue with in-person instruction according to state and local regulations. However, individual schools that have not yet reopened would need to wait until the county moves back to the less-restrictive red tier and stays there for 14 days.

“Some schools are in the midst of phased reopening, starting with lower grades first. Individual schools that opened some of their grades while Ventura County is in the red tier would be allowed to open additional grades even if the county falls back to the purple tier. However, schools that did not resume in-person instruction while the county is in the red tier cannot reopen once the county is in the purple tier.

“There would be some limited options for schools that haven’t yet reopened and wish to do so while the county is in the purple tier. For example, schools may request waivers from Ventura County Public Health to allow them to reopen grades TK through six. In addition, all schools are permitted to hold in-person classes for small groups of students who need extra assistance, including students with disabilities and English language learners.”

A list of reopening dates that had previously been announced by Ventura County school districts is available at www.vcoe.org/coronavirus.

The press release continues: “It will be up to each individual school district to decide how to proceed based on the changing circumstances. School administrators will continue to work closely with their school boards, employees and parents to develop plans that best meet the needs of their communities while keeping the safety of students and staff as a top priority.”

On Tuesday, San Diego, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties reverted to the purple tier and California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly told the LA Times that by next week more than half of California counties will have moved into a more restrictive tier.

Going from red to purple means many businesses and organizations will have to again reduce their capacity and restaurants and gyms will have to again move service outdoors.

For the most up-to-date Ventura County COVID-19 numbers, visit: www.venturacountyrecovers.org.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin advised county supervisors about a possible return to the purple tier at their Nov. 10 board meeting: https://www.ojaivalleynews.com/?view=article&id=19146:supervisors-hear-about-local-covid-19-vaccine-plans-concerns-about-spike-in-cases&catid=856.

To view the supervisors' update on COVID-19 starting at the 45-minute time stamp of the recorded meeting, visit: https://ventura.granicus.com/player/clip/5488?view_id=100&redirect=true

 

 

 

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