Increase in COVID-19 cases force Ventura County into the purple tier

OPUSD hybrid model in jeopardy after Ventura County moves to purple tier


Photo Courtesy of Ventura County COVID-19 emailing list

A diagram sent out by Ventura County depicts the limitations of what one can and can’t do while Ventura County is in the purple tier.

Alex Gaspar and Adam Helfstein

Updated Nov. 20, 2020

With COVID-19 cases trending upwards throughout the United States, Ventura County is seeing a similar trend. Ventura County, along with 41 of the 58 total counties within California, have officially been downgraded into the Purple Tier, in regards to COVID-19 case management.

The purple tier, also known as tier 1, is where COVID-19 is considered to be widespread throughout the county, and according to the restrictions schools and nonessential businesses must remain closed while a county is in this tier. Malls and retail stores can continue indoor activity, but can only operate at 25% capacity.

Throughout Ventura County, Oxnard has been the city hit the hardest from COVID-19 with 6741 cases across all its ZIP codes.  Simi Valley, Ventura and Fillmore follow with the most COVID-19 cases. Oak Park has 115 cases

The increase in cases can be attributed to celebrations and family gatherings, which help spread the virus. County officials state that household transmissions seem to be the driving force behind surging COVID-19 cases in Ventura County. 

“For the week ending Oct. 31, 36% of the county’s COVID cases involved more than one infected person at the same address in a sign the virus is being passed from one family member to another,” Ventura County public health officer Dr. Robert Levin said in an interview

With news of the change in tiers, businesses have one day to meet purple tier restrictions: the deadline is midnight on Tuesday Nov. 17, 2020. 

Despite numbers increasing causing Ventura County to move into the purple tier, some experts suggest that the real number of cases is probably much higher than the tallies may state. 

This, along with the already purple tier status of Ventura County, puts the future of Oak Park Unified School District’s hybrid model for the second semester in jeopardy. Only school districts that have opened prior to moving tiers will be allowed to remain open, so school districts that hope to open, such as OPUSD, are unable to do so from the purple tier. 

“We don’t yet know when Ventura County will return to the Red Tier. Still, the District is continuing preparations to open schools in January, as planned, if we are in the Red Tier by December 22nd or as soon after that as we are allowed.  This week I am touring Red Oak Elementary School to see firsthand the preparations underway at our physical campuses and classrooms and expect to see the middle and high schools soon,” Oak Park Unified School District board member Denise Helfstein wrote to the Talon. 

For Ventura County COVID-19 news, visit:

Nov. 18, 2020

With an increase in COVID-19 cases in America, states and counties have started to increase restrictions again. Ventura county, along with 41 other counties in California, have moved back to the purple tier, the most restrictive of the possible tier assignments. 

This means that all indoor activities will be halted, such as indoor gyms, churches, restaurants and other indoor public locations.

“Over the past week, the [Ventura] county has averaged 170 new cases and 0.3 new deaths per day. The number of confirmed infections is currently doubling every 73.5 days,” according to data from the Los Angeles Times, whose staff update these numbers frequently.

Ventura County will be in the purple tier for a minimum of three weeks and will have to meet the requirements of lower tiers for at least two weeks to successfully downgrade into a lower-risk tier. 

As many school districts in Ventura country look to open up schools in a hybrid model, including Oak Park Unified School District, the recent tier reclassification will impact these plans. Schools that have opened prior to the move to the purple tier can continue to carry out in person learning. However, schools that have not reopened must wait until the county is eligible again for in-person learning. This occurs when the county returns to the red tier and remains there for at least two weeks. 

County officials have provided words of encouragement and guidelines to help citizens abide by the restrictions in place in order to stop the spread of the virus. 

“We all have a part in this, and we must be committed to social distancing measures in public spaces (6ft apart, wear face coverings, wash hands, etc.) and to avoid gathering with non-household members,” Ventura County Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said in an interview.