Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

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Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools
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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) officials are aiming to reopen elementary schools and discussed sending a letter to the state during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

The current California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance states a county must have 25 new COVID-19 cases or lower per 100,000 population before schools can reopen. Santa Barbara County currently has an adjusted case count of 36.4.  

PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso said her department would like to send a letter to CDPH endorsing the Santa Barbara Unified School District's request to reopen, even though the county has not met the required case count. The letter will ask for the reopening within seven days following the submission of the letter. 

During the presentation, Dr. Do-Reynoso shared a CDPH graphic discussing the "Swiss Cheese Respiratory Pandemic Defense" which recognizes that no single intervention is perfect at preventing the spread of COVID and each intervention has holes. The slide suggests using a multi-layer approach is the best option combining personal responsibilities such as physical distance and wearing masks with shared responsibilities such as testing/tracing and vaccinations.

The slide also included a quote from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky. "There is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen... safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to reopen safely."

Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed PHD's rationale for the letter is that there are currently schools in the county that are safely open through the waiver process, disadvantaged students should have the same opportunities for in-person instructions as schools in other areas, and students need to return to in-person learning. 

As of Friday, Buellton and Santa Barbara Unified School Districts have been approved for reopening.

Health Officer Dr. Ansorg also stated the department is focusing on elementary schools instead of junior and high schools because studies show there's more virus spread among teenagers and they are able to handle online learning better than younger children.

Additionally, CDPH amended its guidance for places of worship in response to a recent judicial ruling. The capacity limits for places of worship and cultural ceremonies include churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples to resume indoor operations at 25% capacity. This also applies to cultural ceremonies like weddings and funerals.

Vaccination Update

California has initiated distribution changes for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Federal Government is allocating vaccines directly to pharmacies to service long-term care facilities through a federal partnership while providing California with a separate weekly allotment.

With the new state framework, Blue Shield of California is the third-party administrator that will be allocating vaccines to all counties through selected providers such as PHD, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and doctors. PHD will continue serving the "safety net population" such as homeless people, undocumented community members, and those struggling with behavioral or substance abuse issues.

The county is still focused on vaccinating healthcare workers and people over the age of 75 years old, which is over 58,000 people. The next round of people eligible for the vaccine include those aged 65-74 (approximately 41,000), educators and childcare workers (22,646 people), food and agricultural workers (33,090 people), and emergency medical service workers (nearly 6,000).

Dr. Do-Reynoso addressed concerns about other counties opening up vaccines to other groups including Long Beach who is vaccinating teachers. On Tuesday morning, Ventura County also announced their COVID-19 Vaccine Phase has expanded to people aged 65 years and older. 

She discussed each county makes its decision on who to vaccinate based on three variables, the number of vaccine supply, the number of community members who are eligible and who have declined, and the number of individuals in that tier or group. She also confirmed PHD did an analysis of other counties' vaccine allotments and Santa Barbara is receiving its fair share.

Given the scarcity of the vaccine at this time, Dr. Do-Reynoso confirmed PHD decided to protect and stabilize the healthcare system by prioritizing healthcare workers and protect the most vulnerable residents over the age of 75. 

Latest Numbers

Throughout all areas of the county, the majority of COVID-19 metrics are trending downward, except overall deaths have increased by 26%.

"We have lost more community members so far in 2021 than in all of 2020," said Dr. Do-Reynoso. 

From January 25 through February 8, the active cases in Santa Barbara County decreased by 51%, hospitalizations decreased by 27%, and intensive care unit (ICU) stays decreased by 20%.

All areas of the county are experiencing a decrease between 42-68% in new cases. 

From January 24 through January 30, the anticipated new case count per 100,000 population is 40.1 and adjusted down to 36.4. The testing positivity rate is 10.2 and the health equity metric is 15.4.

Dr. Do-Reynoso stated it's noteworthy that Santa Barbara County is the 8th highest county in adjusted case counts and 13th highest for testing positivity, despite being ranked 19th for population size in California.

On Tuesday, PHD reported 11 deaths and 124 new COVID-19 cases. Eight individuals were over 70 years of age and three were 50-69 years of age. Seven individuals had underlying health issues and two deaths were associated with outbreaks at congregate care facilities. Three resided in Santa Barbara, three in Lompoc, three in Santa Maria, and two in South County unincorporated.

There have now been 348 deaths.

Currently, the county has 982 active cases including 149 hospitalizations with 41 in the ICU. The county's ICU availability is now at 19.7%.

[Ed Note: This article has been updated with the above data from Tuesday by PHD and clarification on the PHD letter endorsing SBUSD's reopening only.]

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sbdude Feb 11, 2021 01:01 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

The letter they sent to the state mentioned how private schools are open. Is there any actual data on student or staff infections at any of these schools? I don't see it on the PHD dashboard. How about closures? I believe Bishop has had its second outbreak, I wonder if any other schools are experiencing this and it's just being swept under the rug for political reasons.

dukemunson Feb 11, 2021 01:17 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

SBDUDE - Yes, it's a vast conspiracy...all the private schools, pre-schools and rich kid public schools (plus just schools all over the country and world). But to answer your question, yes...there is data from all over the world showing less community spread in places with school in place. Will a class here or there have to pause for 2 weeks...YES! But that's life...and is a perfectly acceptable situation considering the alternative is full time forever ZOOM. Follow the science and open up March 1st!!!

sacjon Feb 11, 2021 10:40 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

WHOOOHOOO!! GUSD reps must have been reading this. Just got a Parent Square email saying they voted to approve a 5 day schedule that could start as soon as March 1. This is great news!

chico berkeley Feb 11, 2021 03:53 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Avoiding all people while in the Wasatch mountains and at SB central coast beaches.
No different than any other year.
The two places are as different as night and day.
Here, these days I am considered a conservative.
In Utah, I am considered a progressive lib.
That's one of the reasons I can see ALL sides and make wise decisions.

dukemunson Feb 11, 2021 11:29 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

VOR - I will forever be completely floored that the Goleta School Board was re-elected in November... at the time it made no sense and in hindsight somehow makes even less sense! They did everything wrong...and somehow they all got re-elected! We should have started in September and added a week or two to Christmas break.

Voice of Reason Feb 11, 2021 11:10 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Good news but still pisses me off, what has changed since September that now makes opening "safe" on March 1st ? They played politics with our children's lives and as voters we must hold them accountable for not placing the students well-being above all else.

chico berkeley Feb 10, 2021 08:36 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

I will take your teaching job if you are afraid to go to work.
If you wont teach get out of the way.
The future depends on you(teachers) and if your union is so dense and self serving,

Watcher237 Feb 10, 2021 05:59 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Why isn't the Board of Education aiming to reopen elementary schools ? Do the schools now report to Public Health? Thought Public Health only issued 'guidance'? Or was that really 'dictatorship'?

a-1613168798 Feb 12, 2021 02:26 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

8:51 -

It's true, you don't seem to make use of any reputable news sources. Here is some help for you:

Voice of Reason Feb 11, 2021 08:51 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Sac, I wish I could point you to a reliable, fact based, spin and narrative free news source but I don’t know of any. It’s unfortunate today that we need to read and hear from multiple sources to piece together the real truth. If I’m really struggling I’ll go back and listen/read what was actually said or done, verbatim, in its entirety, not the selectively and deceptively edited version that make it to the “news”. (Try watching the entire “fine people” press conference, unedited, in its entirety, or the “drink bleach” one. You’ll see reality isn’t what you may have originally thought). What’s most concerning is many out there share a similar mono-view (on the left and right) devoid of any objectivity or critical thinking, and these people will be voting in the next election and raising our next generation.

sacjon Feb 11, 2021 06:00 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

VOR - you're wrong, again. He. Did. Nothing. Not a damn thing until the fall. He spent months laughing at it and encouraging right wing terrorists to "resist" their state leaders who were trying to do something. Name ONE thing he did to prevent spread of the virus once it got here before he finally got it himself. No, he did nothing. Not only did he not condemn, but he actually ignored the death threats and violence and planned terrorist attacks on state governors. Stop sucking up to traitors.

Voice of Reason Feb 11, 2021 05:20 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Sac, it is impossible to take you seriously when you say Trump didn't lift a finger to stop covid or the initial spread. You can certainly argue he didn't do enough, but to say he did nothing is so completely far from the truth I question if you're even serious or just messing with me. If you truly believe that, you are too far down the media created TDS rabbit and hole and there is no saving you. Knowing what we know now, we should have returned to school and work because all the restrictions and mandates in CA did nothing to stop the spread or even reduced mortality. Using your house on fire analogy, it would more accurately be if a new fire crew pulled up to a house on fire already being fought by a different fire crew, the new crew promising the homeowner they could do a better job and defeat the fire, then once the first crew is gone the new crew tells the homeowner, "there is nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the fire". Question the media and their motives (it's profit) questions our leaders and their motives (profit and power) and hold them accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

sacjon Feb 11, 2021 03:51 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

VOR - further... your quote from Biden about future efforts being futile does NOTHING to excuse Trump from his failure to act in the past. That's like a firefighter telling a homeowner they can't save his burning home, after the neighbor poured the gasoline and lit it on fire. Yeah, it IS Trump's fault he didn't lift a finger to stop the initial spread. How you don't understand this is baffling.... that, or you DO understand but refuse to admit it.

sacjon Feb 11, 2021 03:43 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

VOR - Biden made an effort, Trump didn't. Biden never encouraged people to ignore mask mandates, demanded people return to work and school no matter as if nothing was wrong, teased and belittled people for wearing masks, ignored violence against government officials for trying to protect their constituents, etc etc ad nasuem. Trump did, all of those things. So, to say Trump couldn't have done anything to prevent the spread, especially among his followers, is wrong. Plain wrong. You know it, we all know it.... you're wrong.

Voice of Reason Feb 11, 2021 03:29 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Direct quote from Biden “there’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” So Trump could have done something (what, I don't know because he was following Fauci's recommendations, even he said not to wear masks [side note, now it's two masks SMH]) but Biden can't do anything? probably Trumps fault.

per Pskasi “His [Biden's] goal that he set is to have the majority of schools, so more than 50%, open by day 100 of his presidency. And that means some teaching in classrooms. So, at least one day a week." That qualification is a back peddle from his campaign almost as quick as the $2K out the door immediately, to maybe $1400 in March.

Voice of Reason Feb 11, 2021 02:41 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Sac, we're a year into this and as the virus is still widespread for you to think anything the federal government could have done to stop this is just regurgitating propaganda. When he did take action he was condemned, when he didn't talk action, he was condemned. Do you still not see he was going to be roasted no matter what he did and that none our NPI's have much of an effect on the spread? Biden said he had a plan! then it turned out to be just what Trump was doing and "nothing we can do can stop the trajectory of the virus over the coming months".... oh well at least he has a goal to get kids in school, but in school means "50% of the schools at least 1 day a week", what a sec, that goal was already accomplished during the prior administration.....

sacjon Feb 11, 2021 02:13 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

LCP - China may have been the source of it, but once it got to the US, it was absolutely Trump's fault for not taking action sooner, even while knowing how deadly and dangerous it was.

Ahchooo Feb 10, 2021 08:29 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Has the district offered to provide N95 masks and face shields to teachers? Will they provide same to students, teach proper use of them, require constant use and enforce it? If so, teachers should be safer than nurses.

PitMix Feb 10, 2021 07:11 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Does "safely" mean no spread and no teacher deaths? Or are the statisticians assuming some will die but those losses are acceptable? Teachers have died, and our testing system is so bad that they don't think they got it at school but they don't really know for sure. I completely see the teachers' point of wanting to be vaccinated.

Ventura is open to 65+ and at the current rate of shots will take 5 MONTHS to vaccinate everyone eligible there. KEYT said so last night.

dukemunson Feb 10, 2021 08:21 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

I’ll admit I was wrong about teachers having access to vaccines... I was wrong! I was basing it on our Goleta preschool (who the wife just let me know had all the teachers go to Ventura to get it) and a teacher friend in Long Beach which, along with a few other counties in Cali, have put teachers at the front of the line. I thought that was Cali wide... my bad!

I stand by the cdc recommendation though that schools being open is the safer option (vaccine or not) and that we have willfully chosen the worse option to appease the insanely powerful teachers union. The online zoom school is a joke... not sure what 6th grade class you were looking at, but it’s terrible.

PitMix Feb 10, 2021 07:50 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Wow, Duke, you are really out there this morning. Why are you lying about teachers being eligible to be vaccinated in SB right now? Why are you misinterpreting my comments to say all risks for teachers including covid must be eliminated before schools can reopen? That's why it's so hard to have a discussion the schools must reopen now people.

Yes, when teachers are vaccinated, schools should reopen. The risks they will have after that are the same as the rest of us which seems fair.

dukemunson Feb 10, 2021 07:26 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

And if 100% safe is your criteria than everything must stop/close forever...a teacher will die this year driving to school... another will choke on their lunch apple at school. It’s a ridiculous assertion and thought... and ignores all logic, reality and science (but that’s kind of your jam pitmix so... par for the course!!).

dukemunson Feb 10, 2021 07:23 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

So you agree that once they are vaccinated they can open right up? Because right now teachers have access to the vaccine... those not taking it are doing so by choice and that cannot be allowed to be used to continue to hold our kids hostage.

JB86 Feb 10, 2021 12:46 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

I'm glad to see the district and union are working on planning for re-opening, whenever that may happen. But I do hope they are doing a better job than those who planned the vaccine rollout for the past 6 months. I am hopeful, but not optimistic.

a-1612941180 Feb 09, 2021 11:13 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Isn’t anyone here on “Parents’ Square”? Supt. Maldonado sent out an “op ed” the other day, co-signed by School Board President Ford, on it - in the piece, she argues that the district schools shouldn’t have to wait for the 25 per 100K cases because private schools are open, even though they are in the same community with public schools, with the same case numbers. She says equity demands that the schools open so economically disadvantaged students have the same opportunities as the richer students (not in these exact words....but close).

Also, today Newsom said there would be an announcement in the next few days about school openings and vaccinations for educators.

ChemicalSuperFreak Feb 10, 2021 08:54 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

PIT: I came from a middle-income household and shared a bedroom with my sister. Four children and two adults in a 3 bedroom, 1 and 1/2 bath home. Common sense and frugality allowed my parents to send my sister and I to private school.

sacjon Feb 10, 2021 11:16 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

PITMIX - So, because public school kids come from cramped housing (an absolutely absurd "observation"), then it's ok for only private schools to be open? That's ridiculous.

dukemunson Feb 10, 2021 07:13 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

And tons of kids we all see and know are our and about and then at home. Are you willfully ignoring the science that says schools being open is the safer scenario for everyone...or what?

PitMix Feb 10, 2021 07:07 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Private school kids can likely isolate and quarantine if something happens in their household. Public school kids from families with cramped housing cannot. That might be a difference to consider in evaluating the potential for spread in public schools. One 8th grader I know shares his bedroom with his 2 brothers, one of whom has underlying conditions.

ChillinGrillin Feb 09, 2021 09:30 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

It's pretty ironic to see the chicken littles out in full force claiming COVID is the downfall of education. Public schooling has been crumbling for a long time. Pew Research Center polls since 2010 consistently show that about 40% of Americans can't name the Vice President. Only 17% can point to Afghanistan on a map when we've been in the longest war in modern history there. In multiple surveys, we rank close to last in math/science education compared to other developed countries. Dem states have teachers that can't be fired with unsustainable pension schemes. GOP states have teachers on food stamps. Dems teach about dozens of genders, GOP shows Jesus riding dinosaurs. Both positions are extreme and absurd.

sblocal1967 Feb 09, 2021 08:05 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

SBTA lining up its defense - no vaccine for teachers = no teachers going back to school - School Board members (Capps) who are shills for the SBTA already pandering to them - teachers saying they do not want to go back to in person learning - so disappointing - you have MDs speaking up that school's are safer than being in the general public - but this is not about science - I just do not get how these teachers can look themselves in the mirror

dukemunson Feb 10, 2021 07:18 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

SBSAND - your position is not only ridiculous, but its the less safe option (plus the one crippling us as a society). Data from around the world shows schools being open is the safer option... and it’s obviously the better option. The teachers union (and you) should be ashamed, they have made SB a tangibly less safe and worse place for everyone. Start school ASAP in conjunction with the CDC recommendations... stop following the unions selfish madness.

SBSand Feb 10, 2021 06:50 AM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

Seriously? They have a right to be safe at work and with how germy children and teens are, and how bad with personal hygiene that population is, they won't be safe right now with the rate of spread. Our teacher death numbers aren't high here, and that's good, I think MOST of us would like it to say that way. Know why they aren't higher? Distanced learning! They are working hard to do their best with our kids and they should NOT be ashamed, it is you that should be.

CoastWatch Feb 09, 2021 07:58 PM
Public Health Aims to Reopen Elementary Schools

I know 5 teachers personally, I intimately- They all want to be back in the classroom- The teacher I am closest to has aged 5 yrs in the last year teaching remotely.... Total stress case.


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