California has not seen a link between the reopening of K-12 schools for in-person learning and increased coronavirus transmission, the state's top public health official, Dr. Mark Ghaly, said Tuesday.
Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, told reporters that officials have been closely watching the return to classrooms in counties where it has been allowed. He said it can take time for trends to emerge, but so far, the results are encouraging.
"We have not seen a connection between increased transmission and school reopening or in-person learning," Ghaly said during a virtual briefing on Tuesday. "We're looking at the information to see if there is a connection, and so far we have not found one."
California requires counties to report coronavirus levels and infection rates below certain thresholds before they can allow K-12 schools to broadly reopen for in-person instruction.
On Tuesday, 32 of the state's 58 counties were deemed eligible to do so, up from 28 a week earlier. The state has seen a broad decline in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks.
But Californians are being urged to remain vigilant and follow safe practices.
"We wanna act responsibly but, so far, it's encouraging to see the tremendous effort and planning that communities and their schools and their staff have done to make sure that it's lower risk for students and staff alike," Ghaly said. "We're seeing (those) fruits early on, and I think that's encouraging for all of California."
Several schools in the Central Valley have been approved by the state to allow for kindergarten through sixth grade to return to campus.
Fresno County and Merced County have both moved into California's red tier, which allows schools to reopen.
Clovis Unified said they were working on a plan to bring students back to campus. Meanwhile, Fresno Unified said that while the county has made progress, parents should not expect an immediate return to campus for all students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.