Why some schools can reopen campuses even though Fresno County is back in 'purple tier'

If a school didn't reopen while the county was in the 'red tier', they now must wait.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County is back in the state's most restrictive tier and for many school districts across the Valley, it could mean that students won't be coming back to campus anytime soon.

The county's 'purple tier' status means schools can't fully reopen until it's back in the 'red tier'.

RELATED: Fresno, Kings, Merced counties pushed back to Purple tier as COVID-19 cases rise

"It just halts the forward progress of getting our students back on campus. Our district believes that the right time to phase in In person instruction would be in the orange tier," Fresno Unified's spokesperson Nikki Henry says.

But there is an exception: school districts that were already open in the less restrictive tier don't have to close again.

Fresno Unified currently allows in-person instruction for a small cohort of high-need students, while the rest are learning from home.

Officials say the district believes that the right time to phase in in-person instruction would be in the 'orange tier'.

At Clovis Unified, an elementary waiver allows it to have students back in class with modifications.

Secondary students are also trickling back onto campus as the school is partially open.

"The steps we've taken go all the way back to August... We can move forward irrespective of the tiers," says Kelly Avants with the Clovis Unified School District.

According to state guidelines, school districts must work closely with health departments to create reopening guidelines.

The Merced County Office of Education officials plan to collaborate with the public health department to keep the community, including parents, informed on cases.

"We're working with the county health department to create a dashboard so we post real time how many cases," MCOE's Nathan Quevedo says.

If a school didn't reopen while the county was in the 'red tier', they now must wait.

Fresno County Superintendent Jim Yovino recommends parents do their own homework.

"They need to talk to their local school district because each governing board superintendent could decide something different," Yovino says.

Fresno Unified officials plan to have a community town hall on Thursday to determine how learning should look when the county reaches the orange tier.
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