Students arrived back at a private Christian school in California on Friday for what could be a second day of in-person instruction, according to a report by The Fresno Bee.
The K-12 school in Reedley opened for the school year Thursday despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order that schools in counties that remain on the state watch list due to the coronavirus pandemic not reopen their campuses for instruction, the Fresno Bee report said.
Fresno County issued a health order against Immanuel Schools, ordering it to close its classrooms until the county is removed from a state monitoring list for two weeks. Violating the order could lead to fines of up to $1,000 per violation per day.
The order requests the county sheriff and local police chiefs to enforce the order.
News reports Thursday showed students gathered in groups at the school for the first day of the new school year without practicing social distancing or wearing masks.
The school, located in the Central Valley, has about 600 students in classes from kindergarten through high school. All are taught on a single campus.
The order also is designed to “address the strain upon the health care system” from COVID-19, said a statement from David Pomaville, the county’s public health director.
Messages seeking comment from the school after hours Thursday weren’t immediately returned.
However, the school’s Board of Trustees and Superintendent Ryan Wood issued a statement that said they believe “our mission is best achieved through in-person education.”
Fresno is one of nearly 40 counties that are on a state monitoring list because of rising COVID-19 infection rates. The county was added to the list on June 8.
On Thursday, it reported nearly 350 new cases, for a total of nearly 18,700, with 191 deaths.
Schools within those counties cannot reopen for classes or seek waivers to reopen until certain statistics show infection rates are slowing.
Most school districts have started or will start their new academic years with online instruction.
Gov. Newsom said Wednesday that California, with nearly 600,000 confirmed cases, is making progress in the rate of virus transmission and hospitalizations because people are largely adhering to rules requiring people to wear masks and keep their distance. Still, officials reported another 160 deaths Thursday.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.