It is merely the first month of school for many students, but alas a new round of pupils is in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. Several local school districts have cited cases, including Pasadena Unified School District which has seen 25 cumulative confirmed student cases and 10 from staff since Aug. 1. Twelve cases among students and three among staff were confirmed from Aug. 19-20, according to data from PUSD.
At Marshall Fundamental School, all unvaccinated students in the seventh grade and a group of 10th-grade students were quarantined last Thursday, according to district sources. Four infections have been detected among students and two among staff since Aug. 1 at Marshall Fundamental, according to district records. A total of 344 students and staff in the district who may have been exposed to the virus were placed on quarantine, including 245 from Marshall Fundamental School and 36 at Longfellow Elementary School.
Parents were alerted to the outbreak at Marshall Fundamental by Principal Lori Touloumian through email last Wednesday night.
“We have informed Marshall Fundamental 7th-grade parents and guardians that the Pasadena Public Health Department informed us this evening that it has found evidence that two confirmed cases of COVID-19 are epidemiologically linked,” the email from Touloumian stated.
“This means that the infected persons share a common membership at school (e.g., classroom, school event, school extracurricular activity, academic class, sports teams, clubs, transportation),” Touloumian explained. “The two confirmed cases have been present at some point in the same setting during the same time period while infectious within a 14-day period.”
Infections were also detected at Altadena Artos Magnet School, Don Benito Elementary School, Field Elementary School, Norma Combs Elementary School, Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy, Longfellow Elementary School, McKinley Elementary School, Webster Elementary School, Willard Elementary School, Blair High School, Focus Point Academy, John Muir High School, Pasadena High School, Rose City High School and Sierra Madre Middle School, as of Aug. 20. Moving forward, PUSD said the database will be updated late Tuesday and Friday afternoons with confirmed information available at the time.
“The PUSD’s strategy for keeping our students and staff safe is in ensuring that all eligible students and staff are vaccinated, there is increased availability of testing, improved mental health services, the enforcement of the mask mandate, upgraded ventilation, intensified cleaning and sanitizing, and handwashing,” Superintendent Brian McDonald said in an email update last Wednesday.
In another update Sunday, McDonald emphasized that testing and vaccinations will play a major role in the district’s strategies.
“I will recommend to the Board of Education that all students 12 years and older be required to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing with informed consent by parents,” McDonald said. “To this end, we are preparing to bring on board 25 additional health professionals. This will allow us to have a team of three on each elementary site who will rotate to the secondary sites each Monday. We want all PUSD students to be tested, especially those that are unvaccinated, with informed consent by parents/guardians.”
Meanwhile, Pasadena High School Principal Robert Hernandez last week indicated some teachers or staff members may have resigned, however, in an attempt to confirm multiple media reports, Beacon Media’s emails and phone calls were not immediately returned.
In other districts, the Los Angeles Unified School District, 6,500 students missed at least one day of school during the first week as result of the virus, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. “About 3,000 students were in isolation because they tested positive for an infection either during the first week or in the days before the Aug. 16 start of classes,” Howard Blume wrote for The Times. “An additional 3,500 were in quarantine after they were identified as close contacts of those who tested positive.”
Lake Elsinore Unified reported that about 500 students have been sent home to quarantine. Roughly 300 of those are from Elsinore High School alone, according to the Press Enterprise.
The Saugus Union School District is reported that 74 students were sent home for quarantine, according to a Daily News report.
The Newhall School District has also been affected.
Concerns about schools becoming super spreader sites prompted Culver City Unified to issue a mandate for eligible students to prove they have been vaccinated. “We will begin gathering vaccine status data immediately. The deadline for providing the proof of vaccine is Friday, November 19, 2021, to give everyone the opportunity to make their vaccine plans,” the district announced last week on Twitter.
At Corona High School, two football games were canceled Friday because “multiple cohorts” within the varsity team had to quarantine after a potential coronavirus exposure, according to the school’s website.