Laguna Beach High, Thurston still set for March 17 reopening

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An areal view of the Laguna Beach High School track, which will temporarily close for renovations. Photo by Cyrus Polk – Sparkle Films.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District remains on track to reopen secondary schools to in-person classes on March 17 even though earlier this week Orange County narrowly missed a metric needed to enter the less-restrictive red tier, the superintendent said Thursday.

In a statement to the region’s school district superintendents, Orange County Superintendent Al Mijares said he conferred with Orange County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau on Wednesday about the latest trends in COVID-19 cases. Chau confirmed that Orange County should enter the red tier on March 16, allowing K-12 districts to reopen the following day.

“If our positivity and equity numbers stay consistent and our case rate falls below 7.0 for the next two weeks, any school in Orange County would be eligible to reopen on March 17,” Mijares wrote.

Mijares added, “The likelihood is high that Orange County will meet the red-tier criterion for case rate next Tuesday, because the rate is based on a seven-day lag, seven-day average and our case rates have been well below that threshold throughout the past week.”

The plan to reopen the high school and middle school to students is supported by both unions representing district staffers. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the state is setting aside at least 10% of its COVID-19 vaccine doses for education workers to expedite the safe return of students and school employees to campuses.

“Secondary classified staff are prepared to meet the requirements for returning to in-person instruction following the guidelines of the COVID protocol that LBUSD has in place,” Margaret Warder, president of Laguna Beach Unified’s chapter of the California School Employees Association, wrote in a Feb. 25 email.
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