Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Entrance Sign to Isla Vista (edhat file photo) title=
Entrance Sign to Isla Vista (edhat file photo)
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By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (PHD) announced elementary schools can now apply for waivers as the focus shifts to rising COVID-19 cases in Isla Vista.

During a presentation to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, an overall decrease in new case rates, hospitalizations, and intensive care unit (ICU) has made elementary schools within the county eligible to apply for waivers of in-person learning.

The process is now available for K-6 schools and is put in place by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The local waiver application form is being finalized and should be available later this week on PHD's website, however, all the necessary requirements are available on CDPH's website.

The school's superintendent, or equivalent position, must submit evidence of consultation with labor and parent organizations, must publish the school's reopening plans on the website of the local educational agency. PHD will then review the application, reopening plan, and local community epidemiological data while consulting with CDPH to make a determination whether to grant or deny the waiver.

Once approved the school must meet all the necessary guidelines and distancing to reopen. 

If Santa Barbara County has an increase of COVID-19 cases, Governor Newsom has reportedly assured PHD the school's waiver would not be rescinded but will be monitored more closely.

Overall COVID-19 Cases Decrease as Isla Vista Spikes

As of Monday, Santa Barbara County had a total of 7,454 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 278 cases are active, an 11.6% decrease over the past two weeks.

Santa Maria, the city with the most cases, had a 41% decrease in new cases over the past two weeks. Similarly, Santa Barbara decreased by 25% and Lompoc by 38%. Overall hospitalization rates decreased by 24% and ICU rates by 4%.

The concern is now focused on Goleta that increased by 18% and Isla Vista that went from 22 COVID-19 cases to 78 within a two week period, a 255% increase.

PHD Director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso stated this is most likely reflective of students coming back to the area, high-density living, increased social movements, and gatherings.

This week the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is now being driven by people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who don’t know they are infected. Most of the young people either never developed symptoms or had mild symptoms.

“This increases the risk of spillovers to the most vulnerable: the elderly, the sick, people in long-term care, people who live in densely populated urban areas,” said Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific.

Dr. Do-Reynoso stated a similar distribution of cases is being seen in California and Santa Barbara County as 66% of local cases are from people aged 18 to 49.

The decreased virus transmission in Santa Maria is believed to be due to focused outreach efforts, said Dr. Do-Reynoso. PHD will now be focusing on the younger population, especially in Isla Vista, and hopes to see results in several weeks similar to North County.

A new focused outreach video with the "Protect. Respect. Wear Your Mask." campaign features young people between 16 and 39 to encourage their peers to wear a mask and protect the health and safety of Santa Barbara County.

State Reconciles Backlogged Data

On Monday, CDPH released retroactive data from the backlog in their CalREDIE system. PHD teams worked throughout the weekend to reconcile the numbers with the state's methods and all the numbers are accounted for in Santa Barbara County.

The positive testing rate decreased from 9.1% to 8% in just over a week and the case rate per 100,000 went from 323.4 to 158.9 in the past two weeks. While the decrease makes it possible for the state to allow elementary school waivers, Santa Barbara County still does not meet the threshold of these two categories to be off the monitoring list. 

Dr. Do-Reynoso stated because of the restrictions by the state on what can reopen, it's critical to have good data. Due to the state's different methodology and lag times of data input, there will always be a difference between the state and county numbers, she said.

PHD has been very vocal of their frustrations of reconciling data and made their concerns known to CDPH, said Dr. Do-Reynoso.

As a reminder, even with a decrease in cases or being removed from the state's monitoring list, Santa Barbara County is unable to reopen new business sectors or allow indoor operations without a new health officer order from the Governor's office. 

Tuesday's Numbers

PHD is reporting an additional death of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was in the 50-69 age range, with underlying health conditions, resided in the City of Santa Barbara and unincorporated area of Mission Canyon, and is associated with a congregate living facility. 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 81.

There were 29 new cases reported bringing the grand total to 7,481 with 256 of those active. There are currently 59 hospitalizations including 22 in the ICU.

Two previously identified cases were removed.  A case can be removed for being out of the county, duplicate, or non-positive lab result, etc., according to PHD. 


More data can be found at

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a-1598561552 Aug 27, 2020 01:52 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Score another one for the teachers unions, who guaranteed their own paychecks through June 2021. Whether classrooms open or not. Whether sinking enrollments justify their full employment or not. The most powerful political force in this state is the California Teachers Association (CTA). Even former Gov Brown called them the go-to fourth branch of government, even though we voters play absolutely no part in electing them to this position. The CTA is a private membership, dues- paying organization; yet they control one of the most vital, most essential, most expensive, and most underperforming operations in our state - our K-12 public schools. CTA set the bar so high, there is no way any classroom will ever open again. You saw their list of demand when the LA schools refused to go back to the classrooms. None had anything to do with actual classroom issues. Time to take teacher union backed candidates off our local school board, because we now know full well what we will continue to get when we keep re-electing them. Take these narrow special interest groups out of our public schools and lets get something far better than a #45 ranked school system for our Prop 98 dollars - 50% of all general fund taxes go automatically to public eduction in this state. .

dukemunson Aug 27, 2020 01:01 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista they aren't applying for a waiver now. Did anyone hear anything that indicated when they might revisit it? Did they commit to the current circus till October and then will review again or will potentially reconsider immediately if numbers continue to fall? Or are they just going to sit back and see what happens with Laguna Blanca, Providence, etc and then go from there?

sacjon Aug 27, 2020 01:41 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

DUKEMUNSON - I was listening in and after the vote, the topic came up of when to revisit this. Board members seemed to suggest at least December, very possibly June. They were reluctant to go back to the hybrid model (the one they planned for all summer) even if the numbers go down and we get off the watch list, thereby being allowed to re-open. There was discussion that this would be too disruptive and unfair to the teachers and staff. I was so blown away that I somewhat tuned out and don't recall who was saying what. I felt like I got kicked in the stomach. The thought of these kids being able to return, but not allowed to because it would "disrupt" their learning is asinine, laze and unacceptable.

dukemunson Aug 27, 2020 12:49 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Here's the direct email coming to all parents of GUSD students in all it's insane glory!!! "Dear GUSD Community,

Last night the GUSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to not apply for a waiver to reopen our schools at this time. This decision was made with careful consideration of a number of factors including: Santa Barbara County being on the state COVID-19 watch list, the lack of availability of COVID-19 testing, indoor ventilation issues, the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the local community, the impact of COVID-19 on children, transportation challenges, lack of substitute teachers, disruptions due to quarantine requirements and more.

Our Trustees greatly appreciated receiving input from our community and have directed administration to continue to find ways to support our students, families, and employees. We are pleased that the first week of remote instruction went well and we will continue to deliver a rigorous and engaging remote instructional program for the time necessary until it is safe to return to in-person instruction. We thank you for your steadfast support!


Donna Lewis, Ed.D.


sacjon Aug 27, 2020 12:00 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

LETMEGO - Oh I agree, and I have a couple teachers in my family. The teachers DEFINITELY want to go back, but it's the school board's comments last night that concerns me. I know the teachers in my family do not agree with the Board all of the time, so I don't put blame on them. The Board's position was that it would be too disruptive to keep switching back and forth, although the plan they prepared for all summer was the hybrid model. So, how hard can it really be to switch to the plan they were expecting all along?

letmego Aug 27, 2020 11:08 AM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

SACJON: I know a fair number of teachers (because I've got two kids, and know a few other teachers besides). Not a single one of them likes Zoom. Not a single one of them wants to keep distance learning once we are off the watch list. Okay, there might be one I'm not so sure about. Everyone else really wants to go back.

sacjon Aug 26, 2020 06:29 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

GUSD just voted unanimously to NOT apply for waivers. In addition, they discussed the likelihood that, even if the overall numbers drop and we get off the watch list, they would not resume in-person school as it would be too "disruptive" academically. I'm officially changing my stance on this. Kids need to be in school far more than teachers and staff need to have a predictable lesson plan. I don't care if they're finger painting in 5th grade as long as they are doing it IN SCHOOL and it's safe to do so. This is just awful.

Think Aug 19, 2020 12:01 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

If small high schools have students who are tested healthy, those children have a right to go to school. The order from the governor can't discriminate against these students who are healthy. Hopefully our State will support the schools that are healthy without discrimination. High schools should not be secondary to elementary schools.

sacjon Aug 20, 2020 10:29 AM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

THINK - you went off point right off that bat. I never said it is OK to work from home, I just said my wife and I (and most people) are working from as a rebuttal to your statement that "people are going to work." Also, I missed your beach analogy. An elementary school or even high school is not the same as going to the beach. Look, I hate that my kids are on a zoom meeting as opposed to in class, but based on all the outbreaks at schools that have opened (see Georgia) and other youth programs that ignored the virus and started outbreaks (see summer camps), I don't think going to school in person is safe yet. As for the outdoor school idea, that's interesting and I've suggested it as well, but it is just not feasible given the number of students. And by the way, how would you propose these little kids be sitting outside all day with the terrible air quality and blazing heat? It's just not feasible.

Think Aug 20, 2020 10:19 AM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

You appear to be an office worker. It may be OK if you get to stay home, but most of us need to go to work to pay the rent and bills. Zoom is not an education. Schools have large soccer fields and space to spread out students in big tents. Thousands of kids today are being dropped off at much smaller day care programs so we can go to work. Not healthy. Schools have lots of money and can provide health testing if they wished. Schools are essential and need to be taken seriously. If politicians were basing their decisions on science, then they would open the schools, because passing the buck onto the boys club and YMCA is physically not as safe. Nor are the smaller daycare centers who care for students while parents are at work. Reality is different for working families. Physical conditions are worse for our kids without school, and education is important and should not be political.

sacjon Aug 20, 2020 09:47 AM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

THINK - I never said zoom is valid, but it is what it is. The students are getting their education, no one is taking that away. No, it's not ideal, but neither the times we're living in. And NO, not everyone is going back to work. My spouse and I are both still working from home, our offices closed completely. Those "essential workers" who ARE going into an office/field to work, do get tested regularly. I don't know where you are getting your info, but you're wrong on most points. Also, how do you figure that schools have the resources and open space to "control" and keep kids safe? They don't, which is why they're such a risk. Finally, the adults making these decisions are basing them on science and data, what "science" do you see that says it's safe for kids to be in indoor rooms full of kids from other households? Again, schools are not grocery stores so please don't compare them like someone else here tried.

Think Aug 20, 2020 09:30 AM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

I disagree with your assumption that zoom is a valid form of school. It is not. A healthy student has the right to go to school. People are going to work, to the grocery store, and to the beach. Why are schools less important? They offer less risk. Kids wear masks. With schools closed, kids are now at the boys and girls clubs, YMCA, and small daycare centers. If the goal is to prevent the spread of the virus, then schools have much more resources and the more space to control the environment. Not allowing kids to go to physical schools makes for unsafe conditions and discriminates against healthy kids. When adults go to work they don't test every day. Children are not being allowed their rights due to fear from adults who are not basing their decisions on science.

PitMix Aug 19, 2020 02:25 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Thomas, if you think the arguments about mask-wearing have been fun, wait until there is a vaccine available. The Ever-Trumpers will probably say being innoculated is a violation of their rights, and this thing will drag on for many more months and maybe forever if it keeps mutating and/or we keep losing our immunity to it if we've had it.

sacjon Aug 19, 2020 12:32 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

THINK - the problem is, they would need to do continuous testing. If all the students test negative the first day of school, it doesn't mean everything is OK. Could be some of them get infected off campus the next day. Also, it would need to be ALL students and staff being tested. Also, the students are still "going to school" via zoom, so their "rights" are not being infringed upon. There is no discrimination here against healthy students, it's a safety precaution to avoid a situation where many people could get infected by a dangerous virus.

vvorker Aug 19, 2020 07:08 AM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Welcome to the Isla Vista
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Isla Vista
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis
Mirrors on the ceiling
The pink champagne on ice
And she said, "We are all just prisoners here of our own device"
And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the virus...

yiannis93101 Aug 18, 2020 09:14 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Excuse me isla vista....UCSB, new arriving students. I live at friendship manor, senior retirement living. We’ve been lucky all summer long, PLUS we didn’t have deal with the students crazy driving. Now the students trickle back and our COVID cases increase since they’ve been here! Go home! Classes are online, why are you here anyway? And don’t party, don’t screw’ve got a home full of seniors living her and non of want to get ill, or worse!

ChemicalSuperFreak Aug 18, 2020 10:36 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Most classes will be online, when possible. Unfortunately you can't teach everything remotely.
Many laboratories in chemistry, physics, and biology will still take place in person. All incoming freshmen are required to take one year of a science, even if they're intending to major in art history. Even if you waive that requirement, you still have the many undergraduates who do major in a science, and a B.A. or B.S would be useless without some lab experience. These are the realities and I feel terrible that you're going to be living so close to what will become ground-zero for the next surge in cases.

a-1597814136 Aug 18, 2020 10:15 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

Yianni, Government jobs, funded by tax payers, is the largest source of employment in the county. And that includes the very dominant local education industry: UCSB, SBCC and K-12. We built local government budgets based upon this government employment economic engine. If those jobs go away, what else goes with it? Friendship Manor was intended to be town and gown in harmony and proximity.

sacjon Aug 19, 2020 04:09 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

PITMIX - seriously or did you forget the sarcasm emoji? I honestly hope all these fools get the virus, spread it to their friends and thin out the moron population of what used to be a great country. I'm sorry, but I'm done trying to tell them they're endangering themselves and others. Go for it folks! Knock yourselves out, but just stay the f away from the rest of us.

420722 Aug 18, 2020 06:29 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

I feel the same way about the we should still be shutdown people @6:06. It’s getting old to me. Many are ready to move forward. Don’t really know why I stick around commenting here, to relieve frustration I guess but this place has mostly become for the people who are in favor of a lifetime shutdown while the rest of us try to live the most normal lives we can considering all the restrictions. Have you looked outside? There are people everywhere doing fun things as if nothing is happening not just me. Traffic is crazy. We both are entitled to have an opinion and live life how we each see fit. You can’t accept that I’ve chosen not to act and live out of fear the same way it bothers me that some of you are in my mind way over the top.

a-1597799219 Aug 18, 2020 06:06 PM
Public Health Opens School Waiver Applications and Focuses on Rising Cases in Isla Vista

420722 do you truly believe this virus is not dangerous at all? Your relentless boasts of your recklessness and constant belittling of people who are concerned and taking this seriously is getting old. Dude, just go kiss a stranger and sit in a bar and send your kids to school in another state or whatever you feel you need and have the "right" to do, that's fine.

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