It's possible for some California elementary schools to teach in person if they get a waiver

Reopening elementary schools for in-person learning could be possible after the California Department of Public Health released guidelines on Monday.

If elementary schools are in counties not on the state’s monitoring list, they can open for in-person learning at any time.

For the counties on the list, which includes every county in the Bay Area, schools have to get a waiver approved in order to re-open.

If counties have more than 200 cases per 100,000 people in the last 14 days, they won’t be considered for a waiver.

The waiver only applies to elementary schools from TK to 6th grade. 

This is how the waiver works: School leaders have to outline their reopening plans that go along with the state’s rules on disinfecting, health screenings, physical distancing, testing, triggers for distance learning and wearing masks, among other things. They’ll present this to their local health officer who will consider their plan and also look in county statistics on hospitalizations, available testing, PPE, current new case rate and whether in person instruction can be done in small cohorts.

The application has to have the support of parents – community groups and labor unions, which is an issue in Oakland because the teachers union and Oakland Unified haven’t agreed on a reopening plan.

"If we don't have an agreement by August 10, Monday we are prepared to move forward and teach with distant learning," said Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association. 

Health officers will consult with the state’s health department and determine whether or not to approve or deny the waiver.