SACRAMENTO, Calif. — There is now the possibility that a waiver would allow for some in-person instruction when the school year starts and on Monday, the state released guidelines for what that could look like.
The guidelines outline possible in-person learning for elementary schools looking to take advantage of the state's waiver. The guidelines allow for local public health officials to make the decision whether to grant the waiver or not.
At this time Kern County does not meet the requirements to qualify for these waivers.
“We had had some interest in such a waiver from some of our smaller rural districts, but in reviewing the guidance and criteria that was released yesterday, it does not appear the Kern County would be eligible for such a waiver," said Robert Meszaros, Director of Kern County Superintendents of Schools.
Public and private schools on the state's watch list can apply for the waiver, which would allow students back in the classroom, but only with plans in place to keep students and staff safe while meeting social distancing requirements.
When applying for the waiver, the applicant must submit to the local health official a waiver application form, to be provided by the official. The application must include evidence of consultation with labor, parent, and community organizations and publication of the elementary school reopening plans on the website of the local educational agency.
According to officials, the Kern County Public Health Department is working with school districts that are interested in a waiver to make sure they are prepared in case Kern's status changes.
“What we are currently doing is, we are making sure these schools know that this waiver exists, this application process exists," said Public Health spokesperson Michelle Corson. "We’re answering questions, they can begin investigating what this process will look like.”
This framework allows schools and school districts to reopen for in-person instruction at any time if they are located in a local health jurisdiction that has not been on the county monitoring list within the prior 14 days.
“We will continue to work with our partners at Kern County Public Health for their further guidance and insight to see if there will be any type of variance that will be allowed in the waiver process," Meszaros said.