SAN RAFAEL (KPIX) — Marin County will soon be taking the next step in hopes of opening every single school in the county to some form of in-person learning. The goal is to start phase 1B of vaccinations which includes teachers around the end of January.
According to the Marin County Office of Education, 82 percent of its schools have opened to in-person learning and the data gathered in the county has helped guide the State’s plan to open schools across California.
Marin County Superintendent Mary Jane Burke says, “It took us admitting that it wasn’t working.”
For Marin, district officials realized the flaws of distance learning early in the pandemic and a plan was put into place to reopen schools.
“It was never about whether we should be bringing children back to school into the classroom it was really about the how,” said Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer.
Schools started reopening on September 8 to in person learning and public health officials were pleasantly surprised to see Covid case rates drop by roughly 50 percent.
Dr. Willis adds, “We thought that was really important sign to us that does reopening schools increase community transmission had been answered and in Marin County the answer is no.”
Marin is currently getting about 2500 doses of the vaccine weekly. After frontline workers, those over the age of 75 and teachers are next in line.
While it’s not mandatory, the goal is to vaccinate 70 to 80 percent of all childcare and school staff.
“Vaccines offer another layer of protection which we think is critical and why would we not take advantage of that but if someone chooses not to be vaccinated, that’s not going to exclude them from the school environment,” said Dr. Willis.
Depending on the number of doses on hand, the hope is to be able to give the vaccine to every worker who wants it.
“But if we don’t have enough for that, then we would have to make the decision of whether or not we want to prioritize those teachers who are already in the front lines doing the work in schools and reserve the second doses for those who are working from home,” said Willis.
After the vaccines are given out, Marin County hopes to lead the way in safely opening all K-12 schools.
“The answer is unequivocally yes. All our schools for some in person learning and we’ll see more and more of it,” said Superintendent Burke.
Some high schools in Marin were supposed to open January 6. That plan has been put on hold and all school openings will remain on hold until the county can get out of the purple tier.