Some local elementary schools with waivers open, others plan to soon

10 schools in Tulare County, 7 in Fresno County, 5 in Kings County, and 3 in Merced County have been granted a waiver.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A total of 25 elementary schools in the Central Valley, including seven in Fresno County, have been given the green light to reopen campuses after being closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California Department of Public Health has released a list of more than 600 schools across the state that have been granted a waiver to hold in-person classes.

The return to campus has taken a lot of preparation and training to keep students, teachers and administrators following all safety recommendations.

The list includes 10 schools in Tulare County, seven in Fresno County, five in Kings County, and three in Merced County. (Scroll down to see the full list)

Experts say the science points towards letting elementary school kids go to school.

"We bought 140 handwashing stations. All throughout our campus, it was just crazy. We had, I think I've spent about $15,000 on plexiglass, face shields, masks." said Fresno Christian Schools Superintendent, Jeremy Brown.

At Fresno Christian, students from kindergarten to fifth grade will return to class five days a week beginning next Monday. For the superintendent, it's been a process he's been preparing for over the past six months.

"With our smaller class sizes and big classrooms, we can maintain social distancing, all the preventative measures, and the PPE, so we're able to bring all of our elementary kids back and we're just excited," said Brown.

At Clay Joint Elementary School outside of Kingsburg, 220 students were back in class Tuesday. That's about 95 percent of the total enrollment. But the campus is using a hybrid model and splitting groups into a morning and afternoon class.

"We get to see happy faces. Kids are excited, parents are excited. I get to hear kids learning through my walls and we hear laughter and chants," said Clay Joint Elementary Superintendent, Judi Szpor.

The rural school is slowly introducing students back into the classroom. They've asked each parent what they wanted for their students and most asked for face to face instruction.

One of the challenges for administrators was figuring out the best way to utilize the 23-member staff and break up students.

"Each group is less than 14. We're spread out and we're six feet apart and wearing masks in grades three through sixth under the waiver," said Szpor.

For students in kindergarten through second grades, masks are not mandatory.

Waivers were granted to mostly private schools with smaller class sizes. But the first returns to school and improving COVID numbers are encouraging to public school districts who are hoping to be allowed to return in Mid October.

Of the 613 schools that applied to the state for a waiver, only a handful were denied. None of the schools in Central Valley counties were denied.

Here is the full list of Central Valley schools that were granted the waiver:

FRESNO COUNTY - 7 schools

  • Clay Joint Elementary School District
  • Fresno Christian School
  • Hume Lake Charter School
  • Kerman Christian
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help
  • St. Anthony's Catholic School
  • St. LaSalle Catholic School

  • KINGS COUNTY - 5 schools

  • Armona Union Academy
  • Hanford Christian School
  • Kings Christian School (K-6)
  • Mary-Immaculate Queen School - Lemoore
  • St. Rose-McCarthy Catholic School

  • TULARE COUNTY - 10 schools

  • Central Valley Christian Academy (K-6)
  • Dinuba Jr. Academy (k-2) and Dinuba Jr. Academy (k-6)
  • George McCann (Tk-2) and George McCann (Tk-6)
  • Hope Elementary
  • Saucelito Elementary
  • Sierra View Jr. Academy (TK-6)
  • St. Aloysius (TK-2) and St. Aloysius (TK-6)
  • St. Anne's Catholic School (TK-2) and St. Anne's Catholic School (TK-6)
  • St. Paul's School (TK-2) and St. Paul's School (TK-6)
  • Zion Lutheran School (K-2) and Zion Lutheran School (TK-6)

  • MERCED COUNTY - 3 schools

  • Our Lady of Miracles
  • Dos Palos Elementary (TK-2)
  • Bernhard Marks Elementary (3-5)

  • You can see the waiver status of all the California schools that applied here.

    Madera County has now announced it is accepting applications for waivers from local elementary schools.
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