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Ojai Valley educators are getting COVID-19 vaccinations

2 22 21 SECTORSome Ojai Valley educators received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses on Feb. 24, the same day the Ventura County Office of Education issued a press release that Ventura County school employees are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Educators are among the people in the new sectors now eligible for vaccines, as supplies allow. The others are child care providers, emergency workers, and food and agricultural workers, who fall under the county's Phase 1B tier of vaccine eligibility.

Effective immediately, educators and others in the Phase 1B tier are eligible to make vaccination appointments on the county's website at www.venturacountyrecovers.org/vaccine-information.

Ojai Unified School District also has a private registration link for educators to make appointments to be vaccinated.

School employees will need to show proof of employment, such as a pay stub, in order to receive their vaccinations. Relatives of school employees and school volunteers are not eligible to be vaccinated at this time, according to county government officials.

For the latest information on COVID-19 and Ventura County schools, visit www.vcoe.org/covid-19 .
Ventura County has reached a COVID-19 case rate that allows all elementary schools in the county to resume in-person instruction, if they choose to do so and have taken required safety measures.

Ojai Unified School District elementary schools are already open for hybrid instruction because they were open the week of Nov. 2 when the county was in the red tier for COVID-19, which is slightly better than the purple tier the county is in currently.

Nordhoff High School and Matilija Middle School opened on Feb. 22 for in-person instruction in small cohorts of 14 or fewer students, under the state cohort guidance, which is different from the in-person hybrid schedule guidance.

School reopening

According to current state guidelines, elementary schools may reopen when a county's adjusted COVID-19 case rate falls below 25 per 100,000 residents and stays there for five consecutive days. In Ventura County, that milestone was reached on Feb. 21. That means Ventura County schools that had not previously reopened now have the option of bringing students back to class.

Some school districts may determine it's still too soon to reopen their elementary schools, particularly if they serve parts of Ventura County where the case rate remains above 25 per 100,000. "There are several ZIP codes, particularly in Santa Paula, Fillmore and the Oxnard Plain, where case rates are still worryingly high," said Cesar Morales, deputy superintendent for the Ventura County Office of Education. "School districts in those areas will need to decide when it's in the best interest of their particular communities to reopen their classrooms."

Before they can reopen for hybrid instruction, schools that had not been open when the county was in the red tier last year must wait for seven days after their COVID-19 Safety Plans have been approved by Ventura County Public Health and the State Safe Schools for All team.

Ojai Unified School District had not yet submitted its COVID-19 Safety Plans to the county as of Feb. 23, according to school officials. However, it does have safety plans for the school district that have been submitted to the state.

Schools that do reopen will use hybrid schedules since social distancing requirements prevent them from bringing all students back at the same time. Schools will continue to offer distance learning as an option for families who prefer it. Under current state guidelines, middle and high schools that have not previously reopened will have to wait until Ventura County returns to the less-restrictive red tier on the state's coronavirus classification scale.

Educator vaccinations

The announcement that teachers are eligible for vaccines follows a decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom to set aside 10% of the state's vaccines for school employees. Because of continued issues with vaccine supply, the number of vaccines initially available to school employees is expected to be limited.
"We are very gratified to see that the people who work in our schools are receiving high priority for vaccinations in Ventura County," said Morales. "A fully functioning school system is one of the keys to getting our lives back to normal. The sooner we can get school employees vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to bring all of our students back to the classroom," he said.