SAN JOSE (KPIX) – It’s back to the classroom for dozens of students in the Bay Area as one-by-one, schools get the green light to throw out distance learning.

“We’ve had parents calling us today saying, ‘We are so excited,'” said Creekside School Executive Director Deirdre Sheerin.

Creekside is a non-public school that serves students with autism, ages 5 to 22-years-old.

“They need special education,” said Sheerin. “A video camera does not merit the definition of special education.”

The San Jose school received permission to open its classrooms from the Santa Clara County Office of Education, on Monday.

It is one of only two schools so far to have its waiver approved by the county. The county has also given the green light to three districts. Dozens more have applied for a waiver and are currently under review.

In San Mateo County, 14 private and charter schools have had their waivers approved.

“They have been very thrilled and thankful,” said San Mateo County Office of Education Executive Director Patricia Love. “They really feel the need to get kids back on campus, especially young kids.”

Love said the application process is straightforward, and based on the state’s own application.

“It’s looking at things, like, their testing protocols for teachers, their contact tracing protocols, their cleaning, their physical distancing, their face covering policies,” Love said.

The other option for schools to reopen is if a county is in the state’s Red Tier on the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, for at least two weeks. The Red Tier is the next step to reopening the economy after the Purple Tier, which is what San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are in currently.

Sheerin said the application process involved several conversations with the Office of Education, but it was worth every minute.

“We did it, we’re in, now let’s get planning,” said Sheerin. “The teachers are just incredibly enthusiastic about seeing kids again.”

For the list of schools in Santa Clara County that have had their waivers approved, and those still under review, visit: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/covid19/Pages/school-approved-waivers.aspx

For those schools in San Mateo County that have had their waivers approved, visit: https://www.smcoe.org/other/for-administrators/school-recovery-planning.html

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