The Mountain View Whisman School District had an opportunity to stress-test its COVID protocols during the first three days of school last week as infections acquired in the community appeared on campuses.
A student who came to Vargas Elementary School with symptoms reported a positive result from a COVID test at the end of the school day. Four other schools, Castro, Mistral, Landels and Crittenden, also each reported one student with a positive result by Monday morning. Also positive were a Graham Middle School staff member and two at the district office. Current policy guidance from county, state and national health organizations directs schools to prioritize in-person education and not quarantine entire classrooms when a student reports a positive test.
The infections thus far were acquired outside of school. In a conversation with parents and staff late Friday, Superintendent Ayindé Rudolph said the question of when and if to quarantine classrooms or other cohorts will remain a policy question likely to be much discussed. Districts and the county health department must observe whether transmission does start occurring at schools – or whether the masking and mitigation strategies in place appear to adequately prevent classroom transmission even of new virus variants.
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District reported one student and one staff case at the end of its first week back in school. Los Altos School District classrooms open this week.
MVWSD is preparing to offer opt-in COVID testing for families. Neither MVLA nor LASD is implementing an on-campus testing regimen, at least not yet. Lead LASD district nurse Monica Sidher said they are exploring providing testing for classrooms exposed to a student who tests positive. The student with a positive result would need to quarantine at home, while others in the class could continue to attend school if they are asymptomatic and committed to testing immediately and on day five after exposure.
“The nurses in our district say this until we’re blue in the face and can’t stress it enough: Every individual who is symptomatic – please stay home and do not come to work or school. We all need to do our part,” she said.
LASD and MVWSD use a daily check-in tool to ask parents and staff about symptoms, exposures and test results, intended to prompt those at risk to stay home. Colds and other respiratory viruses circulating in the community prompt the following protocol, Sidher said: You need a negative COVID test or medical note, symptom improvement and 24 hours fever-free, without medication, before you return to school. LASD requires a PCR test – not the over-the-counter options available for instant at-home use.