Since COVID-19 positivity rates are down and safety programs have been approved by the county, Santa Barbara Unified School District is ready to re-open elementary schools.
The Feb. 23 board meeting for the Santa Barbara Unified School District opened with an optimistic message from Superintendent Hilda Maldonado.
“Today, we learned our county’s adjusted case rate has declined to 16 per 100,000 residents and I am happy to recommend that our elementary schools reopen for in-person instruction,” Maldonado said.
The School Board voted unanimously to approve hybrid in-person instruction for its elementary schools beginning March first.
Families of students in grades TK through six now have the option to join hybrid in-person classes or continue with distance learning.
Assistant Superintendent Ana Escobedo said almost 80% of elementary students will attend class in-person.
The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department approved the district’s safety plan to prevent transmission of COVID-19 on school sites. The plan includes masks and temperature checks, socially distanced classrooms, hand washing stations and other safety protocols.
Since the March first school reopening date coincides with the probable date Santa Barbara county will receive ample vaccines for school personnel, most teachers and staff returning to campus will not have this added level of protection.
Karen McBride, president of the Santa Barbara Teachers Association, has been advocating for vaccines for teachers and staff.
“Ideally, it would have been nice if everyone could have gotten vaccinated before the return on March first," MacBride said.
McBride said she does, however, feel confident that good measures are in place for health and safety.