VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - In early October the Ventura County Public Health Department gave schools the green light to reopen in-person instruction as part of the State’s reopening plan, but not all school districts are gearing up to reopen by Wednesday's target.
As Ventura County continues in the red tier, the Public Health Department says schools can reopen in-person instruction by Wednesday, although many districts are holding back.
“We really wanted to take the time to think through things like transportation and nutrition services, and make sure we have all the safety protocols in place,” said Tiffany Morse, Superintendent of Ojai Unified School District.
Ojai Unified School District decided to push back the reopening date until November 2. This date only applies to the elementary schools in the district. Morse says middle school and high school will be treated different because cohorting is more complicated.
“Middle and high school kids are taking different classes,” said Morse. “We might have to quarantine up to 100 kids and 6 teachers if we had just one case and so at this point our system can’t support that so we are going to wait until second semester and see if we are in a different tier or different guidance.”
Ojai Unified is giving families three options when they reopen; live in-person hybrid model, stay in distance learning, or homeschool. Pleasant Valley School District is following a similar model. The district is planning to reopen next week in a cautious approach. According to the district they will reopening over a four week period beginning with the youngest students next week, with the goal of having all grade levels onsite by November 16th.
Oxnard School district says they will not reopen during this time because case rate numbers are too high in the area.
“In one of our zip codes, we have over 2,000 cases of COVID-19,” said Karling Aguilera-Fort, who is the superintendent of the Oxnard school district. “So sending kids with that number will not be safe for the kids, nor for the staff.”
The Oxnard School District is the biggest elementary district in the county with 21 schools and over 1,500 students. The district say they plan on continuing distance learning until case numbers go down. Also holding off in-person instruction is Oxnard Union High School District who serves 10 high schools with over 17,000 students. Publics health requires cohort size to remain at 14 students in a class, which is hard at a high school level, but there is still some hope to return soon.
“Hybrid instruction will probably begin in the 3rd or 4th week of the second quarter,” said Tom McCoy, who is the interim superintendent of Oxnard Union High School District. “We don’t anticipate right now a full reopening like people know high school in January, but obviously we are going to continue monitor this situation.”
Meanwhile Moorpark Unified Schools is the first Ventura County district to reopen K-12th as they were granted a waiver.