Education · Visalia/Tulare

Valley counties hit brakes on elementary school reopening waivers

With the vast majority of California’s population currently residing in counties on the state’s coronavirus watch list, most schools in the state are required to start the academic year in a fully online capacity. 

However, the state is allowing elementary schools in those counties to apply for a waiver to their respective county public health department to reopen for in-person instruction. 

Tulare County announced Monday that any such waiver application will be denied until the COVID-19 case transmission rate declines in the county. 

The California Department of Public Health recommends that counties with case rates at or above 200 cases per 100,000 residents do not approve the reopening waivers. 

“Tulare County’s case rate is currently above the recommended threshold, and although schools may submit a plan for reopening, public health officials will not be considering or approving waiver plans until COVID-19 case transmission rates decline,” the county said in a statement Monday. “Ensuring the health and safety of children, teachers, staff and all of their families is the top priority.” 

The county said it will accept waiver applications from elementary schools once local metrics improve. 

Before the schools apply for the waiver, the county is requiring the school superintendent or equivalent to consult with labor, parent and community organizations to develop and publish a reopening plan.

Fresno County health officials told McClatchy that they would not accept waiver applications from school districts.

Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said consideration of applications would only come once “local and state patterns and policies allow us to consider those.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at