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Santa Barbara Returns to the Purple Tier

NASON ALEXANDER

Staff Writer

If you have been keeping up with local COVID-19 coverage, you are probably aware that Santa Barbara is once again in the purple tier. Ooh, scary purple. But what does that mean? And how will it affect you? Or worse- your schooling?

First of all, for people not knee-deep in COVID-19 factoids: the purple is part of a tier system that outlines the severity of Coronavirus in a given community. The system uses the case rate, a measurement of new covid cases per week per 100k residents. That sounds a bit complicated, but it just means that out of every hundred thousand people in your county, the case rate is the amount that has tested positive for covid. The four tiers are yellow, orange, red and purple, with yellow as the least severe and purple as the most. As of December 9th, the case rate is at 14.4. The requirement for purple tier is 7 or more. Unfortunately, our community is far in the purple. 

This affects your day-to-day life in many ways. For example, under the purple tier regulations include the six feet rule, the masks, limited capacities for stores, a general ban on public indoor activities, a ban on any type of gathering at all, that stuff. Most recently, there has been a 10 p.m. curfew and stay at home order put in place. This means non-essential jobs will be closed once again. These restrictions will be lessened as we make our way down the tiers, but for now people are (hopefully) following these rules. Of course, this is a school newspaper. As such, explaining how situations like these affect schooling is practically our job. So, how does it affect school?

Guidelines for the Purple-Tier. Image courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department

According to our vice principal, Dr Analese Alvarez, we have to be in the red tier for at least two weeks before we can reopen with the hybrid schedule. Returning to purple will not affect schooling after opening (unless it gets severe), but until we drop down out of the purple tier we are stuck online. In the case that school does reopen in a hybrid setting, we will attend our classes in three groups, with two switching off and one being permanently virtual. “I imagine [the hybrid schedule] will be a little strange at first, but SMHS students are brilliant and resilient, so I know we will eventually get into the “flow” of what school will look like and take good care of each other when we are in-person,” Dr Alvarez firmly states. 

While it may take a while, we will eventually have to go to a hybrid schedule. There is no question that it’s the needed step towards fully reopening school. In the meantime, though, staying safe and healthy is just as important.

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