Riverside County and the rest of California are reopening today (June 1) with the removal of capacity limits and physical distancing requirements for most businesses and events. Under the proposal, the county would begin its gradual reopening in September, allowing dining restaurants, places of worship, and non-essential officials to resume services. Four districts, including the Corona-Norco and Murrieta Valley Unified School Districts, have obtained approval for their plans. The decision of when to reopen in person depends on individual school districts.
On Tuesday, the county's adjusted case rate, the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents adjusted by the number of people being tested for the virus, fell below 25. Because of this, and because the county remains at the state's purple or “pervasive coronavirus” level, schools and school districts with approved plans and checklists to prevent transmission of COVID-19 can offer classroom learning from transitional kindergarten through sixth grade. If a school has an approved plan, it can immediately reopen as far as Riverside County is concerned, said county spokeswoman Brooke Federico. Previously, a county's adjusted case rate had to fall below 25 per 100,000 and stay there for five straight days. However, Federico noted that the California Department of Public Health released new guidance that removes the five-day requirement.
Even if the five-day requirement were still in place, the county would currently comply with it. So far, four school districts in the county Corona-Norco Unified School District, Murrieta Valley Unified School District, Desert Sands Unified School District, and Palo Verde Unified School District in Blythe have county-approved safety plans with early state approval. The message described virus prevention measures on campuses, including face coverings for students and staff, plexiglass protectors on desks, daily symptom checks, 6-foot physical distancing, and “small, stable classroom” environments. Corona-Norco Elementary students on a traditional August-June schedule as well as two tracks throughout the year will return Monday March 1st while other student tracks throughout the year will return Tuesday March 2nd and March 30th. Students and staff will be required to wear cloth masks and face masks will be given to students. K-6 schools that opened for in-person learning under a previous exemption process remain open as do schools that opened for all grade levels when Riverside County was at the red coronavirus level.
Some Riverside County Teacher Unions Wary of Reopening Pace. Gomez who has limited authority over school districts expressed support for teachers and the safe reopening of schools. Riverside County would need state approval to reopen under this new schedule because it is currently on California's watch list. Riverside County is one of at least 49% of California counties that received approval to quickly reopen businesses in May without meeting at least one of the state-mandated reopening criteria according to an analysis by The Desert Sun. Riverside County filed a letter to the California Department of Public Health last week seeking approval to reopen several business sectors in September arguing that the closures create an overwhelming burden on residents from job losses to poor mental health. The California Department of Public Health today moved Riverside County to the red level of the state's reopening framework allowing more businesses to resume indoor operations.