With more COVID-19 vaccine doses becoming available to Santa Barbara County, appointments are opening up for TK-12 school teachers, Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said on Tuesday.
There are about 23,000 local people who work in the education and childcare sector and are eligible for vaccination, but county public health and school officials are creating priority groups within those sectors, Do-Reynoso said.
A group of school superintendents created priority groups for the education sector:
» staff serving students who are unable to wear masks, are medically fragile, or require support that does not allow physical distancing
» staff members who have significant in-person contact with other people, and/or are mixing across multiple groups or locations
» staff members working in person with students and other staff without mixing groups, people working in person with limited exposure to others, and people working remotely
Lompoc Valley Medical Center will vaccinate the first priority education group this week with evening and weekend clinics, Do-Reynoso said.
Santa Barbara County Public Health will be meeting with higher education stakeholders this week to develop vaccination plans, she added.
As vaccination appointments are opening to school staff, many TK-12 districts are starting in-person classes after almost a year of remote learning.
The county and state already approved reopening plans for eight school districts, including: Lompoc Unified School District, Buellton Union School District, Santa Barbara Unified School District, Goleta Union School District, Vista Del Mar Union School District, Orcutt Union School District, Santa Barbara Charter School, and Cuyama Joint Unified School District.
The Public Health Department staff members are working with these schools and providing technical assistance to ensure that reopening plans are as rigorous and robust as possible, Do-Reynoso said.
Schools serving transitional kindergarten through sixth grade that had approved safety plans were allowed to reopen for in-person instruction on Feb. 24 after the county’s adjusted case rate fell below 25 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for five consecutive days.
Once the county’s COVID-19 case rate falls to seven, in the red tier of the state reopening system, junior high and high schools (grades 7 to 12) will be allowed to reopen under state guidelines.
Several districts have been holding classes for months in either in-person or hybrid (in-person and remote) teaching models, including many smaller private elementary schools.
Those schools opened in the second half of 2020 and did not have to close in-person classes during the wintertime surge of novel coronavirus cases, but closed schools were not allowed to start in-person classes until recently.
On Tuesday, the county’s adjusted case rate fell to 13 per 100,000 people in the latest tier assignment from the state, which means high-contact youth sports can start playing again outdoors.
That includes basketball, football, hockey, rugby, rowing, soccer, and water polo, Do-Reynoso said.