Santa Barbara County elementary schools will be able to submit waivers starting Friday for in-person learning.
This was reported to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors by Santa Barbara County Public Health Department director Dr. Van Do-Reynoso and public health officer Dr. Henning Ansorg during the board’s Tuesday meeting.
Over the 14 days between July 25 to Aug. 17, Santa Barbara’s case rate per 100,000 residents dropped from 213 to 159, according to Dr. Do-Reynoso.
The California Department of Public Health recommends that counties not allow schools to extend waivers allowing for in-person education until their case rate drops below 200 per 100,000 residents.
The county is in the process of finalizing waiver applications for students grades TK to 6 and setting up an email account where schools can send waivers, according to Dr. Ansorg.
To file a waiver, superintendents and their equivalents in private and charter schools must submit evidence to county health officials that they have consulted with parents and community organizations involved in school operations. They must also publicize a detailed reopening plan that consists of cleaning, disinfecting, daily health screenings for teachers and students, small cohorts of students, and face coverings for all kids third grade and higher.
The county Public Health Department will begin accepting waivers on Friday.
Should the case rate increase again, schools that applied for waivers before the spike in cases won’t be forced to re-close.
“It has been determined by the governor that we would not rescind the waiver if the rate were to go up,” Dr. Ansorg said. “That would not be fair to parents or children. We obviously would monitor the schools more closely, we might require more frequent testing, and we would act on the individual school’s profile.”
Santa Barbara Unified School District superintendent Hilda Maldonado told the News-Press that she was “looking forward to the guidance from the county on the steps you need to take to get the waiver approved.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Santa Barbara County was 7,481, including 256 active cases.
According to Dr. Do-Reynoso, over the past two weeks Santa Barbara has experienced a 25% decrease in coronavirus cases, Santa Maria a 41% decrease, and Lompoc a 38% decrease.
However, Goleta has experienced an 18% increase with its 39 cases growing to 46 over the last 14 days. Most significant of all is the 255% increase in Isla Vista, with 22 cases ballooning to 78 cases. Dr. Do-Reynoso said this is likely related to UCSB students returning to I.V.
While giving an update on the local economy, County assistant CEO Nancy Anderson announced that as of Monday the Small Business Grant Program is now active. A $309,000 grant program consisting of $199,000 in county funds and $110,000 in matching funds from the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Better Together Program, the Small Business Grant Program gives grants of up to $7,500 to small businesses with annual gross sales of less than $2 million and between three and 25 employees.
Businesses that apply for the grant must demonstrate that their gross sales have declined by at least 25% due to COVID-19 and be self-certified through the county’s RISE program. Applications for the Small Business Grant Program will be taken through Aug. 31 and can be found at sbfoundation.org.
In other business, the supervisors voted 4-1 on two criteria scoresheets that will be used in awarding cannabis storefront retail licenses. According to a board letter, one scoresheet is for evaluating the business operations proposal of an application and the other for evaluating an application’s neighborhood compatibility proposal.
The initial selection process for a cannabis storefront retail application consists of three steps: submitting a complete application; reviewing the business operations proposal by a third-party reviewer; and reviewing the neighborhood compatibility proposal by county staff led by the CEO’s Office.
The business operations scoresheet captures technical data called for in a county ordinance, whereas the neighborhood compatibility proposal is meant to address community concerns regarding the installation of a commercial cannabis business. The latter scores neighborhood compatibility on several factors. A community involvement plan that demonstrates the retail operation will be consistent with community-plan standards and hear concerns from the community is the most heavily weighted of these factors at 35%.
First District Supervisor Das Williams voted against the scoresheets and said he felt the community involvement criterium should be weighted even more by increasing the 35% to 40%.