The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reported on Feb. 23 that the county’s rates of adjusted cases and positive tests have declined — down to 16.9 and 6%, respectively — which is low enough to allow for the reopening of elementary schools, provided that an approved safety plan is in place. 

Though the county’s cases have been trending downward, it still remains in the purple tier. 

“COVID-19 is largely transmitted in the community and not in a TK-6 school setting. When everyone does their part to follow the safety guidelines and protocols, our children can return to school in a safe environment for themselves and for school staff,” Henning Ansorg, public health officer, said in a press release from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department (SBPHD). 

Though some are celebrating the reopening of elementary schools as a step in the right direction, the county has yet to descend to the red tier. Previously, the county managed to stay in the red tier from September to November 2020. 

To move to the red tier, the county would need to have an adjusted case rate of 4 to 7 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and the testing positivity rate would need to be between 5% to 8%. The county’s press release said that “the need for more testing could improve weekly adjusted case rate leading to further reopening in the near future.”

When asked during the SBPHD Feb. 19 press conference if the county could realistically return to the red tier in the near future, Ansorg said it would take only “a couple of weeks” to reduce transmission, so long as community members adhere to public health guidelines. 

“It all depends on our collective behavior,” Ansorg said, gesturing to his mask. “The more people take this seriously, the faster we get there.”

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Atmika Iyer
Atmika Iyer is an assistant news editor. She's a lover of loud music, loud laughs, and loud prints.