Fresno County could move to red tier next week, FUSD pushes ahead with plans to reopen

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County remained in the purple tier Tuesday, but for the first time in months, metrics were within the range of the red tier.

Fresno County's positive covid-19 case rate has to be under 10 new cases per day per 100,000 people for two weeks to qualify for the red tier. Tuesday the adjusted case rate was 9.6.

If those numbers hold for one more week, the county can move to the less restrictive tier. It's good news for Fresno Unified School District which had already planned to reopen April 6, pending the county being in the red tier.

"This didn't do anything to slow down the progress we've been making, if anything, it's validated our moderate approach," said Bob Nelson, superintendent for Fresno Unified School District.

The district will return all elementary school students on a hybrid schedule, if their parents want to send them back.

Some middle and high school students will also return, with priority given to seniors.

Officials say they're grateful to still be on track with the reopening plans.

"In this last week, the movement was a little bit less than it had been in previous week so, to be at 9.6 today was really gratifying," said Nelson.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health said Tuesday's metrics were trending in the right direction for the county to move into the red tier.

"This is exciting. This is a transition that we really haven't been on the cusp of having for many months," said Dr. Rais Vohra, the interim health officer for the health department.

Officials said if we continue this trend, the state will likely move Fresno County to the red tier next week and more businesses can reopen as soon as Wednesday, March 31.

Health officials said they hope the chance of getting closer to reopening will remind people to follow health and safety guidelines as people head toward spring break.

"Even if it means not having a traditional spring break this year, just think about the many great activities that we'll be able to enjoy in the summer and fall if we just get this pandemic behind us," said Dr. Vohra.

Nelson said he is excited for students to return to campus and said the county moving to the red tier will, hopefully, signal that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

"This is an opportunity for us to kind of finish strong, and get across the line and to see a return to all those things that we value." Nelson said.

Nelson said the district is working to get students back on campus for summer school and is already planning for students to be back on campus in the fall.
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