Fresno County is reopening, but COVID-19 in the classroom ‘not a matter of if, but when’


FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Students in Fresno County could start trading tablets for teachers and computers for classrooms in just two weeks. The county moved from the purple to the red tier in the state’s reopening plan Tuesday.

If the county continues to meet state metrics for COVID-19, infection rates and positive tests for the next two weeks, in-person teaching may resume. But Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said they need to have a plan in place for the inevitable.

“We like to say it’s not a matter of if, but when, you’re going to have COVID in a classroom,” he said.

Health officials said once schools get the green light to bring students back on campus, coronavirus cases won’t mean an automatic shut down – but there need to be protocols.

“For example if someone were to test positive at a school at a classroom, how are we going to quarantine those individuals? How are we going to communicate with not only our health department but with our teachers and staff and so forth?,” said Alejandro Villegas a health education specialist for Fresno County.

In a statement, Clovis Unified officials said they were working to finalize an in-person instruction option, which will be rolled out in two phases.

Elementary school students will return in some capacity at the end of October, or the beginning of November. They said a plan is being developed for 7th through 12th-grade students and will be finalized in October.

Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson sent a statement stressing safety over speed when returning.

Safety protocols must be followed, including PPE use, screening, and physically distancing six feet. Given that there is no scenario under which we can distance ALL of our students, our return to school will be in phases.

Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson

Dr. Vohra adding that the department will be watching the rates of infection in schools as students return, and will require 10% of teachers and staff to be tested for COVID-19 every month.

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