Officials Offer Information on School Waivers and Warn Salons Planning to Reopen Indoors
By edhat staff
Santa Barbara County officials offered guidance on school waivers for Fall instruction and warn salon owners who have reopened indoor operations against state health mandates.
Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools, stated all schools within the county are ordered to provide virtual-only learning due to Governor Newsom's orders with Santa Barbara County being on the state's monitoring list for high COVID-19 case transmission.
However, the state has offered an opportunity for some schools to open before the county is off the state monitoring list through a waiver process. Only elementary schools can apply for these waivers and it involves an application by the school district's superintendent or head of schools, and a consultation with specific school partners. The waiver can only be granted by the county's health officer after a review of the application with the county's epidemiology and a consult with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) will only begin to accept waivers for consideration once the county meets specific criteria for 14 days. Meaning at this time, no waivers have been accepted and all schools must be remote.
"Getting back to school, in person, depends on all of us," said Dr. Salcido.
She also said the upcoming virtual learning for Fall will have different expectations than this past Spring. As an unexpected emergency took place in March, teachers and administrators were not prepared to immediately pivot to virtual learning. Now with more planning and preparation, and state guidelines, all public schools must meet specific standards for instructions, engagement, assessment, and attendance during the pandemic.
All school districts must provide a specific minimum amount of instruction per day through synchronous, or collective group learning, and asynchronous learning, or indepednet learning. Each day there will be interaction with teachers and students as well as offline assignments. Schools also have plans to reengage absent students, said Dr. Salcido.
A Strict Warning for Hair Salons
Dr. Do-Reynoso acknowledged reports of salon owners throughout the county planning to rebuff the health orders and open their doors to serve clients indoor.
"Recently we were made aware that multiple salon owners across Santa Barbara County plan to defy the current state and local health order to reopen their salon indoors beginning Monday. Please know that opening would violate state and local health officer order. It may be considered an unfair business practice and could result in enforcement actions from state licensing agencies," said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
Current California and Santa Barbara County Health Order only allows salons to operate outdoors with additional safety requirements. Salons can only offer haircuts and cannot provide hair coloring or washing.
"We truly do understand the impact of closure on all businesses and are working to ensure that all businesses can open safely," said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
She continued to stress that all community members must act to decrease the disease transmission which will ultimately allow the county to be removed from the county's monitoring list. To be removed for the list, case rates must be cut in half.
The Numbers As We Know Them
PHD is reporting two additional deaths of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. The individuals were both over 70 years of age and lived in congregate facilities. One individual had underlying health conditions and resided in the area containing the City of Santa Barbara and unincorporated Mission Canyon. One individual did not have underlying health conditions and resided in the city of Orcutt. Deaths are reported when a death certificate is processed listing COVID-19 as a cause or a significant condition. The process can take several days and up to 2 months to finalize if pending Coroner verification.
Total COVID-19 related deaths in Santa Barbara County are now 77.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those who have lost their lives to this virus. As the weather heats up in Santa Barbara County, many of us may be tempted to gather with friends and family we do not live with in our free time, but we caution residents to please consider their individual level of risk and make informed choices to protect themselves and others by wearing face coverings as recommended, and staying at least 6 feet away from those whom you do not live with,” said Dr. Do-Reynoso.
County Supervisor Gregg Hart stated CDPH has yet to fully resolve their technical issues resulting in an undercounting of COVID-19 positive cases. Governor Newsom plans for the system to be updated by Monday but county officials are worried there will still be glitches in the system.
In the meantime, Hart said they are focused on the accurate numbers of hospitalizations and intensive care unit (ICU) cases. Over the past 30 days, the total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations been been between a tight range of 74 in mid-July to 88 on August 4. ICU cases fluctuate between 24 in late July to a high of 31 this week.
Hart said this indicates Santa Barbara County continues to have a problem with community transmission of COVID-19.
"Without accurate information from the state testing labs on the number of new COVID-19 cases identified daily, we are flying blind about the current level of community transmission. It's very important the state resolves this data gap as soon as possible," said Hart.
Health officials also stated the county's testing availability greatly improved. Testing availability ranges from the same day to the next day at all sites. There is a three-day average turnaround time for results, but for high priority cases, the results can be produced in 24 hours or less.
PHD added 137 news cases on Friday bringing the county's active case count to 290. There are currently 73 hospitalizations including 26 in the ICU.
More data can be found at https://publichealthsbc.org/status-reports/.