SANTA BARBARA, Calif.
Many educators, parents and students have been eager for coronavirus case rates to fall below 25 per 100,000 in Santa Barbara County.
That is threshold that puts elementary schools on the path to reopening.
The state dashboard shows the county is now below 16.9 per 100,000.
Tonight the Santa Barbara County School Board voted to approve the district's plan to welcome back students.
The plan includes a phased-in hybrid model.
Board member Virginia Alvarez said, "The case rates are lower than 25, they are actually 16 per 100,000 which means we are able to welcome our elementary students back in-person as early as, hopefully, next week."
Washington Elementary third grader Sophie Campion said, "I'm really excited, I am having fun doing it at home but I am excited to see my friends at school."
Santa Barbara Unified Superintendent Hilda Maldonado said, " We are ready to see our students back on campus and to continue to serve our families who chose to remain in our distance learning program."
A survey shows 80 percent of the children will return to in-person learning.
"We also acknowledge and thank our elementary teachers and staff and welcome them back to their classrooms. Their work and commitment since day one has been key to supporting and guiding our students during this challenging time," said Maldonado.
If cases continue to decline to 7 per 100,000 middle, junior, and high school students will be able to return as well.
The county is hoping to hit that target by Tuesday.
Those educators have been notified to return to campus on March 9 to prepare for a return to in-person learning.
Lompoc Unified is another district looking to offer in-person learning to elementary school students starting March 8.
Private schools have been open, but they are also doing things differently due to the pandemic.
They have outdoor classes and hybrid schedules.
Public schools will have COVID19 testing available for students.
They have already been testing teachers and staff.
For more information visit www.sbunified.org and countyofsb.org