Clovis Unified School District is moving ahead in an effort to reopen schools and bring some students back to campus.
The board unanimously voted Wednesday evening to direct Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell to submit a waiver application to the Fresno County Department of Public Health to reopen the district’s elementary schools.
Since Fresno County is currently in the state’s most restrictive COVID-19 category, the purple tier, schools are forced to hold classes in an online distance learning environment. However, the state allows elementary schools to apply for a waiver to reopen.
Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra will review the waiver. If he decides to grant the waiver, he will consult with the California Department of Public Health for approval. On Tuesday, Vohra said the state has approved six waivers in Fresno County.
If the state approves Clovis Unified’s request, then the district will be able to reopen its elementary schools immediately. If not, the district will have to wait until two weeks after Fresno County makes it off of the purple tier.
The state announced Tuesday that Fresno County has met the coronavirus metrics of the red tier for one week.
If Fresno County maintains a COVID-19 positivity rate under 8% and less than seven new daily cases per 100,000 residents until Sep. 29, then the county will move into the red tier. The state reported Tuesday that Fresno County had a 4.8% positivity rate and 6.3 new daily cases per 100,000 over the previous week.
Assuming the positive coronavirus trends continue and Fresno County moves into the red tier on Sep. 29, all schools would be allowed to reopen two weeks later without needing a waiver approved.
When the schools eventually reopen, students and staff will be required to wear face masks, with exceptions for special needs students.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, Faculty Senate Representative Duane Goudy reported the results of a survey sent out to all teachers in the district gauging their interest in returning to on-campus instruction.
For TK-3rd grade, 51 percent of teachers responded yes, 24 percent responded no while 25 percent said that it depends on the current COVID-19 guidelines from the public health department.
For grades 4-6, 39.27 percent of teachers responded yes, 32.39 percent responded no and 28.34 percent said it depends on the guidelines.