Lucerne Valley Elementary was the first school in the Inland Empire to reopen with COVID-19 protocols in place last August. District officials successfully urged state officials to allow the school a waiver, because coronavirus cases in the remote community in San Bernardino County were much lower than the rest of the region.
District superintendent Peter Livingston said the school remained opened despite the holiday surge of coronavirus cases.
"We have not had any COVID-19 cases traced back to the school or spread within the school," said Livingston. "We've had a couple people test positive and then we followed the protocols of isolation and quarantining of them."
Now, Livingston is pushing for the district's middle and high school to reopen, citing new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released last week. The CDC is recommending schools reopen in regions where case rates are below 50 per 100,000 residents.
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But that rivals guidance issued by the state of California, which has different protocols. Among other things, state officials aren't recommending schools reopen until the case rate drops below seven per 100,000 residents -- a much stricter threshold.
Livingston wants the state to adopt the guidance issued by the CDC instead.
"We'd like to see that adopted by the state," said Livingston. "It's coming from the CDC. That's science; and we want to be guided by the science. And I don't know what better science there is than the CDC guidance."
There are some students presently on their high school campus: some special education students, as well as children who have poor internet connectivity at home. There are also students on campus who have had a particularly difficult time with remote learning.
Livingston said if those students can be on campus, and it can be done safely, there's no reason not to allow the reopening of the middle and high school campus to a broader population of students.
"We're waiting to see what comes out from the state at this point. It would be great to get some guidance that would get even more schools open," he said. "We can always find reasons to keep schools closed, and we need to change that to start looking at successful places that have opened and continue to stay open and build off of that along with the CDC guidance."