County Schools Gaining Approval for In-Person Instruction

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The County Department of Public Health (DPH) reports that 28 elementary schools have thus far been given permission to provide in-person instruction, while another 14 applications are currently under review by DPH and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). To date, only two school applications have been denied.

The list of these schools, along with everything a school needs to know about re-opening and staying open, can be found on a new County webpage dedicated to the waiver process and the guidelines for operating safely.

To secure a waiver from State mandates forbidding in-person instruction, a school must complete a Waiver Application Cover Form showing that its local health jurisdiction has experienced fewer than 14 daily cases per 100,000 residents over the prior 14 days. San Bernardino County successfully worked with the State to secure consideration for schools located in communities that are meeting the State criteria even if the county as a whole is not.

In addition, the application must include a plan detailing a variety of steps the school is taking to protect students and staff from COVID-19 infection. Elements of the plan must conform to the guidance provided by DPH and the CDPH and include such components as:

  • Physical distancing and the establishment of student cohorts
  • Health screenings for students, teachers and staff
  • Education and training
  • Facility cleaning and disinfection
  • Use of face coverings and essential protective gear
  • Healthy hygiene practices
  • Triggers for resuming distance learning; and
  • Communications describing how school officials will communicate with students, teachers, staff and parents about cases and potential exposures

“We are pursuing a delicate balancing act,” said County Public Health Director Corwin Porter. “Our goal is to allow as many schools as possible to offer in-person instruction, while at the same time doing everything possible to prevent further spread of COVID-19. That requires each school to maintain strict procedures for ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff, as well as having a detailed plan for quickly responding to potential outbreaks. Achieving this balance will require all of us to work together diligently.”

To assist schools in the effort, the County has produced the COVID-19 Response Guidance for K-12 Schools, which offers detailed instructions for schools seeking approval to provide in-person instruction. The Guidance includes step-by-step procedures schools should follow as part of their waiver application process.

“The County is working closely with officials at State Public Health to do everything we can to get young people back into school while also keeping them, their teachers and their family members from getting sick,” said Porter. “While public health is our top priority, we also recognize the benefits of in-class learning and urge everyone to follow the steps needed to achieve both objectives.”

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