State Offers Waiver Program for Elementary Schools to Open

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Last week, the State unveiled a process by which public, private and charter elementary schools could seek clearance to conduct in-person instruction if they meet certain criteria.

On Aug. 4, just hours after the State announced the requirements, the County Department of Public Health created the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health Elementary Education Waiver Packet and posted it on the County’s COVID website. Later that day, the County Superintendent of Schools and County Public Health provided the waiver packet, which includes the waiver application form, to all elementary schools and districts.

Twelve other schools in the county, all private, have also applied for waivers. However, the State has temporarily suspended consideration of waiver applications until it can resolve issues with its data system.

In his message to elementary schools and districts, County Public Health Director Corwin Porter advised that the State recommends that schools within San Bernardino County not be considered for a waiver because the novel coronavirus case-to-population ratio in the county is greater than 200/100,000, but that schools can apply for a waiver nonetheless if they believe an exception should be made.

“There may be some unique circumstances in our very large and diverse county that you feel still warrants consideration for a waiver,” Porter told the schools. “In this case, school districts and schools who still wish to apply for a waiver, can submit their plans to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health for review and consideration.”

Meanwhile, this week the State, under new interim public health leadership, changed its posture on school waivers from discouraging data-driven exceptions within high-caseload counties to partnering with counties while still reserving final word on waivers.

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