Orange County no longer on state COVID-19 watchlist; Schools may have chance to reopen

School supplies and a mask lay on a desk. Louie Bowling/Lariat

Orange County was removed from California’s Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 watch list on Sunday. Departure from the monitoring list that tracks elevated disease transmission, increase in hospitalization and hospital capacity reflects the weeks of improvement in COVID-19 cases in the county. Orange County’s relabeling also impacts the decision to open schools.

If the lower levels are maintained for 14 days, students K-12 could resume in-person classes sometime after Labor Day. Over two dozen schools have already received approval to continue in-person teaching, according to an Orange County Register article published Aug 20. In a public video announcement, Orange County Health Care Agency Director Dr. Clayton Chau elaborated on the safety measures that will have to be taken.

“We will have to discuss risks for vulnerable children as well as addressing health issues in children such as obesity, diabetes, etc.,” Chau said in statements reported by The Orange County Register Sunday.

Saddleback College is tentatively planning on having a small number of students return for hands-on learning on Sept. 14, in a statement from President Elliot Stern on July 22. In another update from Stern on Aug. 14, he states that students scheduled to be in hybrid classes will be contacted prior to returning to campus with screening requirements and new rules for in-person sessions. Since the announcement of Orange County’s removal from the state’s watchlist, no new statements have been released by Stern or Saddleback College.