Positive news about coronavirus cases declining in the county is cause for celebration in the Chino Valley school district where students, teachers and parents may be finally able to count the days until some schools reopen.
An optimistic Superintendent Norm Enfield said during a school board meeting on Thursday that even though the county is still in the most restrictive purple tier, grades TK through sixth can be brought back on a hybrid basis when the number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people falls below 25 for five consecutive days.
Thursday marked day four and the target was expected to be reached on Friday.
Supt. Enfield said officials at the San Bernardino County Health Department told him the five-day mark would be hit on Friday. “The county health department is confident this will happen,” he said. “By March we will be in the red tier, trending toward orange.”
Students can return five days a week when the county moves into the orange tier, he said.
Until then, instruction would be conducted as a combination of in-person in the classroom and virtual.
Under state guidelines, grades 7 through 12 cannot return until the county reaches the red tier, or 7 positive cases per 100,000.
A resolution will be presented at an emergency school board meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday to authorize Supt. Enfield to immediately open elementary schools for grades TK to 6, and grades 7 to 12 when the state requirement is met.
“Once we hit that 7 in 100,000 threshold in the red tier under Governor Newsom’s plan, grades 7 to 12 can return without board action,” he said.
Board President Joe Schaffer recommended grades TK to 2 return on March 3 and grades 3 to 6 return on March 8. Dr. Enfield said the resolution presented on Tuesday will include those dates.
The parents who selected distance learning will not be impacted by this decision, the superintendent said.
The state and county health departments require reopening plans, which have already been approved for the district, he said.
The district started vaccinations this week for employees who chose to accept them.
Dr. Enfield said 325 vaccinations were given on Thursday, 300 were scheduled for Friday and another 300 would be given today (Feb. 20).
The vaccination clinic was made possible through the support of Dr. James Lally, chief medical officer of Health Service Alliance, and additional vaccinations for employees were provided by Chino Plaza Pharmacy, he said. The superintendent said the district is in its third and fourth tier of vaccinations, which include substitute teachers, himself, and his cabinet.
Numerous letters from parents were read into the record pleading for schools to reopen. Some said their children are suffering emotionally and academically from sitting in front of a screen all day.
One mother said her eight-year-old broke down in tears when he could not open an assignment on his computer.
She asked for consideration of children with working parents who are navigating the school day alone.
Rhodes Elementary third grade teacher Scott Rossen stated in his letter that district leadership have ignored parents, teachers, and science by not seeking a waiver to reopen last fall.
“The most vulnerable children such as poor, homeless and English learners are never discussed by the administration or the people who represent teachers. Discussion is always about adults,” Mr. Rossen wrote.
Some parents blamed the teachers union for keeping the schools closed.
Mr. Schaffer said the Associated Chino Teachers Union has not been an impediment to schools reopening. “Our local union wants our students back, so to blame them is wrong and erroneous,” he said.
Cross country meet today (Feb. 20)
The Chino and Don Lugo high school boys and girls cross country teams will compete in a head-to-head meet at 9 a.m. today (Feb. 20), the first official sports competition by a Chino Valley Unified team since the shutdown in March. The meet will be held at Don Lugo High, 13400 Pipeline Ave., Chino.
“Everyone will enter at the ticket booth of the stadium and must be wearing masks,” said Don Lugo coach Coby Polite. “They need to be scanned and given a wrist band. Parents are asked to bring chairs because the bleachers will not be open.”