The Corona-Norco Unified School District received health officials’ approval to begin classes at all grade levels beginning this month, leaving it to the district’s board to set a date, it was announced Tuesday.

“We are proud to be the first school district in Riverside County to successfully complete the state’s waiver process,” CNUSD Board of Governors President Mary Ybarra said. “We know how important returning students to school safely is to our community.”

The waiver, authorized by both the county Department of Public Health and California Department of Public Health, does not translate to an immediate opening, Ybarra said.

“There is still a lot to consider, including reviewing the input we received from our survey of the community and staff to help us determine the appropriate time to reopen schools,” Ybarra said.

The school board will take up the issue at its Nov. 10 meeting, which will be livestreamed at

“We are proud of the safety measures and planning our schools have worked to achieve in preparation for the return of students,” CNUSD Deputy Superintendent Sam Buenrostro said.

“We know the emotional and academic needs of our students are best met with in-person instruction, and we are working to make that happen in the safest environment possible.”

The school district, like others countywide, has been holding virtual, or distance-learning, classes since mid-August.

There had been tentative plans for reopening elementary, intermediate and high schools beginning last week, but those options were tabled based on delays in obtaining the California Department of Public Health’s”TK-6” waiver, which involves documenting a series of operational changes that will be enforced to ensure students are not exposed to health risks, including class size limitations and consistent sanitary practices.

Private schools in the county have been holding in-person classes since August. There have been no documented cluster outbreaks involving students.

“We’ve reviewed the district’s precautions and safety plans, and they meet all current state criteria for precautions,” said county Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser.

CNUSD’s enrollment for the 2020-21 academic year is 53,120 students in 50 schools, just over half of which are elementary level.

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