The COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout Tulare County, impacting our communities and the ability for local schools to return to in-person classroom instruction. Tulare County Public Health is assisting schools with guidance documents, resources, and information as they plan and develop protocols for returning to the classroom once it’s safe to do so.
Tulare County Public Health will adhere to the guidance set forth by the California Department of Public Health, which recommends that counties with case rates at or above 200 cases per 100,000 residents do not approve waivers for the reopening of in-person classroom instruction for students in grades TK–6. Only elementary schools are eligible to submit applications for when local metrics have improved.
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. Ensuring the health and safety of children, teachers, staff, and all of their families is the top priority.
It’s recommended that schools develop a plan that meets the requirements set forth by CDPH and Tulare County Public Health. Prior to applying for a waiver, the school superintendent or equivalent must consult with labor, parent, and community organizations to develop and publish a reopening plan. Tulare County Public Health officials have developed guidance documents and instructions for submitting a reopening plan, which are available online.
Tulare County Public Health will continue to work countywide to implement the infection control strategies known to effectively reduce community transmission and case rates so that schools can reopen for in-person instruction as soon as it’s safe to do so. While all schools, public and private, across the county are closed for in-person instruction of students, teachers, staff, and administrators are allowed to return to school buildings provided adults adhere to existing protocols that require physical distancing and infection control measures, including wearing face coverings.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Tulare County and get our students back to the classroom, officials strongly urge everyone to practice both social and physical distancing of six feet or more between persons. Residents must always wear a face mask or covering while in environments where physical distancing is not possible and while in public settings. More importantly, residents should not participate in social gatherings of any kind, as a large number of the COVID-19 cases in Tulare County stem from exposure through gatherings that occurred beyond a single household.
In addition, everyone is encouraged to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer, regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces, and stay home if you are sick or instructed to isolate/quarantine by a medical or public health professional.