Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings title=
Dr. Henning Ansorg during Tuesday's Board of Supervisor's meeting
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By edhat staff

Santa Barbara County Public Health officials discussed the progress of school waivers and the importance of wearing face coverings during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

School Waiver Progress

Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg reported the Public Health Department (PHD) has received 14 applications for the school waiver process. 

Of the 14 submitted, 10 have been reviewed by a PHD epidemiologist and pediatrician. These applications are expected to be sent this week to the state for a final verdict on approval. The remaining four applications will be sent early next week. 

So far two public school districts have applied for the waiver but the rest are private schools. The following schools that have applied as of Monday are:

  • Coastline Christian Academy
  • Cold Spring School District
  • Howard School
  • Knox School
  • Laguna Blanca
  • Marymount
  • Montecito Union School District
  • Pacific Christian Elementary School
  • Providence School
  • Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy
  • SYV Family School
  • Valley Christian Academy
  • Waldorf School

A representative from Crane Country Day School stated their application was also submitted to PHD on Friday.

PHD is reserving two hours at county healthcare centers in Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara for teachers to get COVID-19 tested.

Once Santa Barbara County moves into the red zone, all K-12 schools will be allowed to apply for reopening.

Rating Face Coverings

Dr. Ansorg provided examples of masks to show County Supervisors which ones are most effective and which are less effective, and how research has expanded on this topic.

"We have gone a long way. At the beginning of the pandemic, I'm guilty myself of having had a significant initial hesitation against the wearing of masks, that was under a very different scenario and in light of the scarcity of evidence for the benefits," said Dr. Ansorg. 

"Now that this has been a worldwide pandemic going on for more than 9 months, initially starting in Asia, obviously there is much more evidence out there so there is very clear evidence now that wearing a mask for the general public is clearly favorable. Masks do not have to be perfect to be effective, that's a very important message that I want to stress today."

The most effective mask is an N95 without the filter. This mas is designed for healthcare workers, is fitted, well-sealed, and comes in a variety of sizes. 

A surgical mask has three layers of protection with a metal band for the nose. These generally provide a better fit than cloth masks and are surprisingly protective to the wearer from droplets, almost as much as N95 mask, said Dr. Ansorg.

The cotton two-layer masks, often the creative hand-sewn ones, due reduce droplets as studies show. Other materials such as microfiber combined with cotton also work well. A recent study reported at least a double layer of cotton or microfiber mix is good and an additional third layer will improve the quality of the overall effect, said Dr. Ansorg.

Face coverings that are not recommended are the N95 masks with a filter and neck gaiters. The filtered N95 mask works well during fires and while in construction zones to reduce inhaling harmful particles, but the filter is not a good source of control to prevent the user's out-breath.

Neck gaiters are better than nothing, said Dr. Ansorg, but the spandex type of material is porous and not the optimal material for a mask. Bandanas are also not the best option as they have a poor fit.

"Masks don't have to be perfect to work, the most important part is that a lot of people wear them and wear them on a regular basis," said Dr. Ansorg.

He went on to say they reduce infections by huge amounts as the worse spreaders are asymptomatic carriers.

When asked by supervisors if there are people who should not wear masks, Dr. Ansorg stated children under the age of two years old should not wear a mask. Medical exemption can be provided for people with severe lung disease or severe anxiety/claustrophobia.

However, there is no scientific evidence supporting a harmful increase in C02 from wearing a mask and it does not replace the benefits of physical distancing, said Dr. Ansorg.

Data Trends in Santa Barbara County

Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso stated COVID-19 cases have increased by 9% in the past two weeks, but the rate of increase is at a gradual and slow pace. Active cases have decreased by 18%, hospitalizations have decreased by 31%, and intensive care unit stays have decreased by 18%.

Additionally, in the past two weeks, the areas of Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, north county incorporated, Goleta, Montecito/Carpinteria/Summerland, Orcutt, and Isla Vista have seen a decrease in cases. The area of northern Goleta and unincorporated Gaviota as well as Santa Ynez has seen an increase in cases.

Do-Reynoso attributed the recent downward trend in Isla Vista due to a call to action with community and school working together, making traction. 

"I really believe that Isla Vista is going to be a model," said County Supervisor Joan Hartmann. "We have student leaders out there who are really taking the message seriously and working with their peers. What's really exciting is there's a lot of research at UCSB that I hope we can pilot and we can be a model for the rest of the country."

Based on the state's new monitoring system, Santa Barbara County remains in the highest purple zone of widespread virus infections.

As of Monday, the county is at 9.0 daily new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population and a 6.5% positivity rate. To move into the lower "substantial risk level" section that's color-coded red, the county will need to lower its daily new case rate to a 7 or less. 

By Wednesday the county expects to have these new metrics and methods reflected on their website.

Tuesday's Numbers

On Tuesday evening, PHD reported 23 COVID-19 cases and 2 additional deaths. Both residents were over 70 years of age and had underlying health conditions. One lived in the City of Santa Maria and the other lived in the North County Unincorporated area.

Santa Barbara County's death toll is now 95 due to COVID-19.

The grand total of cases is 8,164 with 209 of those active. There are currently 36 hospitalizations including 17 in the ICU.

More information can be seen here:

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FernaldPoint93108 Sep 01, 2020 01:37 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Hurray for Montecito for seeing that reopening schools NOW is important. On the other hand SB and Goleta school district administrators will instead be paralyzed with virus fear the entire school year and kids will get a miserable education as a result of that fear. Zoom is no substitute for real school.

sacjon Sep 01, 2020 02:39 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

FERNALD - from what I've heard from teachers is that Goleta and SB districts would have to spend more than they can afford in order to do the testing required for a waiver opening. Montecito and Cold Springs on the other hand only have one school in each district so the cost are not only far lower, but they are both far more affluent and can afford it. Once again, the rich will come out of this better than the rest of us. The kids need to be back in school, no doubt, and I fully support it when the numbers go down. But we will have to wait and see if, when the numbers are down, whether Goleta and SB allow the kids back. THAT is the issue I'm having after attending the GUSD board meeting last week. They suggested that even when it is considered safe, it would be too disruptive to go back to the hybrid model they planned for ALL SUMMER. If that happens, if the kids are allowed to go back (eg, off state watch list, numbers down) and the districts still keep them at home, well then I will be right there along side you and 420722 in my griping.

PdW Sep 01, 2020 02:45 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

I don't buy the "financial strain" argument. The school district has access to quite a bit of money via the CARES act (over 10 million)...more than they were using or had figured out how to use at this point. The application is quite easy and straight forward. I don't see any logic or reason to not fill it out and then present the "opening option" to the parents. Maybe it would entail fundraising and that's beyond what the schools can do and we don't open. Maybe it just doesn't sound that great and only a fraction of the students only go back. But filling out the application and presenting the plan/option to the parents is the job of the School District...and should be done immediately.

sacjon Sep 01, 2020 03:11 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

PDW - I agree, the districts should be able to cover it. Just relaying what I've heard from teachers in the district. I agree 100% though that the kids should be back in school as soon as we're off the watch list, as they planned!

letmego Sep 01, 2020 03:32 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

FERNALD - it's actually not JUST testing - it also depends on how you are going back to school. The SB district already calculated the cost of going back to school (3 types) - all virtual, hybrid, and full in person, at ~$2M, $4M, and $10M. Now, that's for ALL students (not just elementary, which is what the waiver applies to). But you can see that it's still quite a lot of money to implement the necessary changes to get in person school for elementary students (hybrid or fully in person). This includes: tents, portables (for distancing), regular testing, masks, hand wash stations, no touch thermometers, cleaning supplies (and additional personnel to do the cleaning), hand sanitizer, partitions, face shields, additional buses to allow for distancing (at my son's elementary school, more than half of the students take the bus, you'd need to double the number of buses).

bosco Sep 01, 2020 04:01 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

We have been told directly that our school has rejected parents trying to give money and resources for things like tents to do outdoor learning. The school has been given funds for the resources they need by the State. That is coming directly from the PTO. Even if more funding is needed for testing and the like, why not reach out to the affluent SB community? They have tried nothing. The SBUSD is failing our children and our community. For all those arguing for numbers to go down. Well guess what? They have. That is why they have the green light from the Public Health department. Let the PHD do it's job, which is tell the schools when it is safe to open. They have done that. Now the districts need to do their job and open the schools. This is a disaster.

Byzantium Sep 01, 2020 05:19 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

SBUSD was happy to lose thousands of dollars every week on their over-staffed, free food program, that they had to admit was unsupervised and running out of control. Parents, promise you will pack your own kids school lunch and feed them a bowl of oatmeal at home every day. Then take that huge school meal money loser account and put those funds into class room improvements that allow schools to re-open.

PdW Sep 01, 2020 01:56 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

So presumably 10 of the applications have been approved (by a "PHD epidemiologist and pediatrician") and will be approved next week at the State level. DO YOUR JOB GOLETA SCHOOL DISTRICT AND FILL OUT THE APPLICATION!!!! It's ridiculous that you didn't last will be truly contemptible if you don't this week!

sacjon Sep 01, 2020 03:23 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

PDW - don't hold your breath. Goleta district voted unanimously to not apply for waivers last week. Many reasons were cited. Now, our only hope is for people to chip in and make an effort to bring the numbers down (ie, wear a mask, social distance, etc) so we get off the state watch list. At that point, our kids will be allowed to return to the classroom. Whether they do or not will be up to the teacher's union it seems.

letmego Sep 01, 2020 03:26 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

There really isn't a reason (that I can think of) for districts to NOT apply for it. If you GET the waiver, it does not mean you have to USE it. It's risk free to apply, no? Unless the risk is dealing with entitled annoying parents if you get the waiver but decide to delay implementation for a few weeks to get ready.

letmego Sep 02, 2020 12:48 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

DUKE, if you cannot see or calculate the difference between 1 or 5 or 10 customers being in a large grocery store for 30 minutes - all while wearing masks and staying distanced - once a week vs. 15 to 30 students in one room (with poor ventilation) for 4-6 hours a day, then there is really no hope for you.

COVID risks: time (>30 minutes), masks, ventilation vs. not, location (indoors vs outdoors), number of people, and physical distance (> 6ft). Stop equating them. They are not the same.

dukemunson Sep 02, 2020 01:03 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

LetMEGO - But your example is not indicative of reality. Grocery stores are packed. Parks are packed. Restaurants are packed. Beaches are packed. (Small sample size alert) sport camps and activities are packed and sold out. Pre-schools are open. Private schools are about to open (not to mention Montecito Union). So what's your argument for schools, under the Hybrid model they developed and were ready to implement when the numbers were higher than they are now, not opening? Perhaps as you say there is no hope for me, I blindly think getting our kids in the spot designed to safely host them for a few hours per day with accredited teachers is for some crazy reason than the current scenario of kids out and about everywhere....everywhere except school. Hopeless I know..

dukemunson Sep 02, 2020 01:07 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

To clear up a misconception of yours: The hybrid plan specifically limits the number of students to under 14. There is a very easy path for that number to be dropped even further to 11 or 12. Many schools are open in Santa Barbara...dozens and dozens in fact. For some odd reason X number of people have drawn a line in the sand against public schools opening. They have maintained their position in spite of science, logic and reason. Fill out the waiver and start in early October with 2 days per week and build from there. It's really quite simple and is literally the bare minimum the school district should be doing.

420722 Sep 01, 2020 02:26 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Some of the kids in my child’s class fall asleep during class. Distance learning is pathetic and useless. More harm is being done to our kids by keeping them out of school. Hooray for those that chose or could afford a real school that knows how important in-person learning is.

420722 Sep 01, 2020 03:20 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Exactly Duke. I think they should open the schools for those that want to return and for teachers that prefer to teach in person and the rest can remain on zoom temporarily. If they would just allow 50-55 percent of kids to return it will be easy to maintain distance. The other kids can be reintroduced slowly at a capped amount of students biweekly/monthly once their parents feel more comfortable or see the other kids are doing better mentally, academically and aren’t getting sick like they thought. I know this plan will work but something else is going on behind the scenes, that part is obvious. There has been ZERO effort to make anything happen by the SBUSD and the GUSD and there’s a reason for that.

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 05:54 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

General tree- do you sit home completely cut off from anything and everything? If so, OK... your posts are at least honest. But if you are utilizing services of SB, then your post is wildly hypocritical. Schools and programs are open to house kids so people can keep your grocery store running... Your coffee shop pouring... your brewery going. Kids are out and about. As such, the only honest answer is either close EVERYTHING... or follow the experts and open in a hybrid model that provides a safe supervised spot for kids to learn at the spot we’ve all set up and paid (and continue to pay) for to be that safe spot to learn. You’re more than welcome to opt out... but in the scenario of everything open (and you still getting and utilizing all the sb services and businesses)... Public schools and not just private and Montecito schools have to open...

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 06:06 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Duke - You are more than welcome to move to another state, or you could move to Montecito - but you seem to prefer to pound sand here. Have you ever been to a Montecito Union School District gala? I guess not. Well I have. Black tie affair at the Biltmore. Millionaires give millions in donations. Much more than say Adams or Washington would be getting in private donations. You seem to be infatuated by putting me at a Costco or a Starbucks. I don't go to those places. If someone doesn't want to work at a grocery store, they don't have to. Our family has been very self sufficient in this pandemic. Like I said yesterday - I don't have a problem waiting until near the end of the first trimester and looking at the numbers for a return to school. You seem to think that the public schools have the resources to do both hybrid and remote only learning - and they don't. If you want your family to bring disease home - then that's your prerogative. But currently you do not have that option at SBUSD so maybe you should look elsewhere or wait it out.

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 06:11 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as you obviously haven’t followed the school districts releases over the last 4 months. They laid out the plan to open and confirmed they did and continue to have the resources. Money is not issue. You get to Lee your kids home... that’s your option... but Goleta and SB schools will vote to open... as they have to. The money is available and they already have the plan.

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 06:20 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Dukemunson - you like to make personal digs. I'm sure you are happy with yourself. I didn't quality for the $1200 check. No I am not rich. What did you spend your $1200 on? Again, they do have a choice. There is NOTHING forcing them to open. I don't really understand the Bristol Farms / handlebar comment but whatever. My bet is that if the numbers continue to go down we will see hybrid learning at the end of the first trimester. And in the meantime you will be here whining like a brat with one of those propeller hats that lost his lollipop which will continue to amuse me.

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 06:29 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

I am happy with myself! Could use a bit more cardio of late but it’s been a busy year! I guess I did get slightly personal, but your comments about “killing families” by going to school seemingly warranted a slightly stronger response than I would typically go with. They will be forced to open... they work for the people... and the people will not stand for the lack of a choice forever. The numbers ARE down and warrant reopening (as per the experts... as well as reason and logic)... so here’s to opening!!! (And yes to go slightly personal again)... here’s to my kids avoiding you and yours for at least a few months till you decide school and life has been open And leisurely decide to meander back...

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 06:36 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Duke - SBUSD board members have already indicated that they would not be applying for the waiver at this point.
If there has been updated news please provide a link or a source. as this article was 7 days ago. I won't be deciding to "meander" back. Our school has already said they will not be able to accommodate hybrid learning and remote learning simultaneously. We will go back when the district gets an approved waiver and gives a date. You will be doing the same whether the you like the decision or not.

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 06:41 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

06:35 PM Yes it came off as snobby. I was there as a guest and I don't live in Montecito or have a child in that School District and am not rich. Im sorry if that offended you somehow. People get easily offended by anonymous people on the Internet so sorry for being part of the Internet.

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 06:44 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

And they will he held accountable at the board meeting tomorrow for that. They explicitly states and claimed they could open and what it would cost. Money beyond what they estimated it would cost has been made available. Interesting 180 on “killing families”... now you are saying if your school gets a waiver you’ll go back? Seriously? On a certain level I appreciate the trolling, as that’s obviously what it is. To take it at face value would mean you think it’s killing families to go back... but if they say it’s open and you can go back you will immediately go back.

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 06:46 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

General tree likes to that “that guy”... maybe he doesn’t realize it’s not a good look. Then again maybe it’s intentional... it’s an Internet forum... my guess is he enjoys throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 06:52 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Duke your argument is nonsensical. Unless you have inside information on what is going to go down at the meeting tomorrow? That is possible. Your arguments don't pass a very basic Venn diagram which in my day was taught in Philosophy 101 at the university. Maybe you slept through that one. You don't seem to get it - maybe it is your cocktail hour or something or you just want someone to go back and forth with - but when the district says we have to go back to school, then I don't have a choice at the moment other than to send my child to school.

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 06:54 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Duke Munson your personal attacks suit you well. You say one thing and then when given a valid argument you change the goal post. I take it your are currently unemployed as you seem to have vast amounts of time to review school board meetings. I'm sorry if that is the case. If your kids bring you the illness then that would be ashame. Our family has already lost a loved one to Covid-19. So shame on you for disparaging others want of safety. If the school board doesn't open the waivers - then what do you plan to do?

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 07:10 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

I’m truly not saying this as a personal attack, what was your valid argument again? There didn’t seem to be one... in fact I don’t recall a valid point, let alone entire argument. As best as I can summarize (and yes I certainly did sleep through many a college class), if you go to school you are killing people. Never mind that many schools have been open since March and kids are literally everywhere filling every park and beach and sport camp and activity. For some reason (and again this taking you at face value which has been proven time and again as not the way to take your posts) You have drawn a line in the sand with school. The kids are out and about... and you are ok with that... you just want them to stay away from the place designed to keep them safe Monday through fridays, 8am to 3pm (side note, that’s too early to start school... we should be starting at 9 at the earliest). And perhaps you don’t realize it, but when the schools reopen you will have the choice. There will be a zoom option for you... you won’t have to go back. I’m sure a school board changing their minds wouldn’t change yours, right?

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 07:15 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Duke - you keep missing something I am saying, and then you either don't respond or you change the subject. 1. The school my kid attends has already said there would only be either remote learning or hybrid learning but not both. 2. Board members have already hinted they won't be applying for the waiver - but you continue to repeat (like a parrot) that they will open. With that being said, I defintiely agree with you that 8am is too early to start school - 9am would make both parents and children happier. I'm sure we will know more after tomorrow's meeting.

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 07:18 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Private school???? Because virtually everyone commenting on this are at the public schools, which have said they’d offer the choice of remote or in person when allowed. They are now allowed. So I guess you must be at a private school that... well... is kind of taking a ridiculous stance. People deserve and need options this year. ..

dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 07:22 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Nobody likes the guy who corrects spelling mistakes on a forum... but absolutely NO ONE CAN EVEN STAND THE GUY who makes a spelling mistake while being intellectually dismissive. That’s the internet version of taking your 18 year old dog to Hendrys, going to the off leash side and being furious at every off leash dog. It’s horrible!!!!

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 07:24 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings


dukemunson Sep 01, 2020 07:33 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Well If true that’s crazy! I’m coming from a Goleta School district Perspective (3 kids Deep in)... and they assured us that when they could open they would give everyone the option of in person or zoom. It would be up the parents. Thus the anger and fristration. Now that we can open, they (at first vote) chose not to so as to not disrupt the teachers. This is about Health and the kids. Once the health gave the thumbs up )as they have), X number of kids need in person.. and they need to open. If thats truly SB’s stance... I’m sorry... that’s terrible

GeneralTree Sep 01, 2020 07:45 PM
Public Health Officials Discuss School Waivers and Face Coverings

Thanks Duke - you did get what I was saying. Yes - we were told at our public school in SB it would be either hybrid or remote - but not both simultaneously. Maybe we can be more cordial tomorrow. Best to you. It gets heated but seeing that we are locals maybe we can move past that.


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