Orange County seeks to reopen schools Sept. 7 if it can stay off watch list, official says

Orange County has been off the state's coronavirus watch list since Sunday, giving officials a better picture of when schools will be allowed to reopen.
SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- Orange County has been off the state's coronavirus watch list since Sunday, giving officials a better picture of when schools will be allowed to reopen.

Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel explained during a coronavirus briefing Thursday that once the county has been off the state's watch list for 14 days, all in-person school instruction can resume.

"If this continues to go well, school opening day will be Sept. 7," she said.

RELATED: First schools in OC reopen following county's removal from state's COVID-19 watch list
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Some Orange County schools opened their doors Wednesday for the first time in months following the county's removal from California's COVID-19 watch list.



If the county ends up back on the watch list, schools will not reopen, unless waivers have been approved. So far, the state has given approval to 40 schools in Orange County with another 21 applications pending.

As for other sectors, county health officer Dr. Clayton Chau explained indoor operations will remain closed, even when the county is removed from the monitoring list. The state health officer must modify the order and authorize reopening first.

"The good news is the governor has indicated he will have news to share on this front, tomorrow, Friday, so we are all looking forward to it," Chau said.

County supervisors announced Chau as the official county health officer this week, to go along with his role as director of the health care agency. Steel said the board has the highest confidence in him to handle both jobs.

"Under his leadership, the Orange County Health Care Agency has put in place many programs and initiatives to help Orange County in our fight against COVID-19," Steel said.

Chau's next hurdle is Labor Day weekend landing on the tail end of the county's 14-day waiting period. Chau worries how that could jeopardize the downward trend.

"We truly, truly, truly encourage people to have a party through Skype, through FaceTime," Chau said.

He said as the holiday weekend approaches, the county plans to keep reminding people to practice physical distancing, wear a mask and wash hands.
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