By Clara Watson
As most students are nearing a full year of online school, a question most of us are asking is, are we ever going back to school? Overall it’s a complicated one, but it all boils down to what tier Santa Barbara County is in. A tier is how the government measures how high each county’s Covid cases are. For example, the purple tier is a widespread county risk level, where there are more than 8 cases a day in the county per 100,000s people. Although that doesn’t seem like a lot, Covid-19 is a contagious disease, it only takes one person to spread it to thousands. Right now Santa Barbara county is in the purple tier, averaging 14.8 cases and a less than 1 death per 100,000 people.
It’s important to note that Santa Barbara County is a much larger area than just our school district. The population of our county is 446, 527 people, and contains Santa Maria, Solvang, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Lompoc, Isla Vista, Carpintería, and many more towns. This means overall the county has reported an average of 67 cases and 2 deaths per day over the last week at the time of me writing this. However numbers are going down. In order for Junior Highs to go back to school, Santa Barbara County must stay in the red tier for 2 weeks. The red tier means the county risk level is substantial and the county averages 4-7 cases per 100,00. That may seem like a long way to go, but compared to where our case numbers were in December, we are closer than you think. In order to get to the red tier, we all need to do our part. That means wearing our masks in public, minimizing our outings, and social distancing when we are around others.
I know we are all COVID fatigued right now, but the virus is still a real threat, and needs to be taken just as seriously as last March. This strange and draining time may seem like it’s droning on forever, but we are so close to crossing the finish line. Vaccines are making great strides, almost all elderly care facilities are vaccinated throughout America. Scientists and pharmaceutical experts are working around the clock to get vaccines to teachers, and ultimately everyone. With every dose of vaccine being handed out, we are one step closer to beating this virus. More than 63 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine has been distributed(Side note: in order for the main vaccine to work you need two doses) and 13.1% of the total U.S. population have been vaccinated. The U.S. is administering 1.8 million vaccine doses a day, and that number is only going up. If we continue working together to keep our county Covid-19 cases to a bare minimum, we may even be able to go back to school in March! We still have a lot of work to do, but it’s important to acknowledge how far we’ve come this year to overcome this world halting virus. Stay safe and wear your mask, I hope to see you on campus soon!
***Since case and vaccines numbers have been changing rapidly, this information may become outdated quickly. The point of this article wasn’t to give exact numbers, but to describe the situation about going back to school and inform readers of the different guidelines.
To keep up to date on the latest Covid-19 information and cases in Santa Barbara go to: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/030e625c69a04378b2756de161f82ef6