New Lodi playground gets blessing

Students walk out to participate in the ribbon-cutting and blessing of the new play yard at St. Anne's School in Lodi Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. The new yard has a lawn, which is new for the school.

As San Joaquin County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to improve, several private schools have been given the go-ahead to reopen for in-person instruction.

Dr. Maggie Park, San Joaquin County Public Health Official, told the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that 17 schools have applied for waivers to allow grades kindergarten through sixth to return to campus.

Three of those 17 schools include St. Anne’s School, Lodi SDA Elementary School and Lodi Christian School.

Park said the schools were given the option to open Sept. 14 or Sept. 21.

St. Anne’s posted on its Facebook page that it received word last week that school would reopen for kindergarten through third grade next Monday.

Students in the fourth through sixth grades would be allowed to return to campus Tuesday, according to a reopening plan posted on the school’s website. School will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to noon the first three days of the week, and a full schedule will be implemented Sept. 24.

The school is asking families to provide a face covering and individual hand sanitizer for their children, as well as a shoe box container for their own personal supplies.

Students and staff will be required to wear masks in class, and students will be required to wear them when social distancing is not possible.

Staff will teach students proper handwashing and encourage it be done frequently throughout the day.

A staff member at Lodi SDA Elementary said the school would reopen next week, as well. Principal Patty Osborne was unavailable for comment.

Lodi Christian School principal Ron Hittle and vice principal Diane Harper were unavailable for comment as well.

Galt Adventist School applied for a waiver and had it approved this week as well.

Private schools are reopening as the county inches closer to moving into the next “tier” of economic recovery.

San Joaquin County is currently in Tier 1, or the purple tier, due to having one of the most severe levels of COVID-19 transmissions in the state.

To move into Tier 2, or the red tier, the county must have less than seven new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per day over a seven-day span, and a test positivity rate of less than 8%.

Currently, the county is experiencing 8.8 new COVID-19 cases. However, the county met one metric to move closer to the red tier by reducing test positivity to 7.1% two weeks ago.

“This is great news,” Park said. “But we have to have both metrics met at the same time to move toward the red.”

As of Tuesday, the county had reported 19,564 positive cases of COVID-19 and 392 deaths. There have been 1,458 cases in Lodi’s 95240 ZIP code, and 408 in the 95242 ZIP code.

In addition, a total of 59 people were being treated for COVID-19 at the county’s seven hospitals, of which 24 were in the intensive care unit. Park said the county’s hospital capacity had been below 100% for the past three days.

While cases are decreasing and available hospital beds are increasing, testing efforts will begin to ramp up this month to further combat the virus’ spread.

Next Monday, a Verily mobile testing van will be at Eastland Plaza, located at Wilson Way and Fremont Street in Stockton from 8 a.m. to noon. The van will be at the plaza every Monday through December, Park said, and will be able to conduct about 200 tests a day.

The Army Corps Civil Support team will also provide a mobile testing at 555 Industrial Park Drive in Manteca on Sept. 26, and again at Valverde Park Community Center, 15557 5th St. in Lathrop, on Sept. 27. The unit will also be available at Franklin High School, 4600 E. Fremont St. in Stockton, on Sept. 28

Lastly, a free kids’ COVID drive-thru testing event will be held at Hamilton Elementary School, 2245 E. 11th St. in Stockton, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 26.

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