Schools

LASD records first COVID-19 case

Almond School” width=
Marie Godderis/Town Crier
A first-grader at Almond School, above, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Los Altos School District saw its first diagnosed case of COVID-19 last week, when a first-grader at Almond School tested positive.

The district learned that the student had tested positive Nov. 10, Superintendent Jeff Baier said. All students and staff who were in close contact with the child, including the classroom group the student was in, have been told to quarantine for 14 days, monitor for symptoms and arrange to get tested.

As of Tuesday (Nov. 17), the district hadn’t been notified of anyone else testing positive, Baier confirmed. Families are required to immediately tell their school’s administration if a student tests positive, as well as if any of their household members or nonhousehold close contacts do. The same goes for school staff members.

The school campuses have safety measures in place intended to reduce the risk of COVID-19 from spreading from an infected individual to other students and staff.

“The mitigation measures we have in place – the masks, the distance, the hand hygiene, the ventilation – those are all measures we have in place to prevent any further spread,” Baier said.

Although having a case of COVID-19 wasn’t a scenario the district wanted to have occur, Baier said they had put plans in place ahead of time, which were carried out. That included contacting the County of Santa Clara Public Health Department to notify officials of the case, sending the classroom cohort home to quarantine for 14 days and get tested, and letting the broader school community know about the positive test.

Almond principal Raquel Matteroli sent a letter via email to families and staff Nov. 10, the same day the district learned the student tested positive, notifying them that there has been a COVID-19 case identified. The district later updated a data table on its website to include the case.

Only the classroom group of the student who tested positive, plus any other close contacts, must quarantine. The rest of the students and staff at Almond can continue to come to campus.

The state has released criteria for when a school or district should be closed. According to the California Department of Public Health, closing a school may be appropriate when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts, or when at least 5% of the students and staff test positive in a two-week period. Santa Clara County health officer Dr. Sara Cody also could decide a school closure is warranted based on other factors.

Cases in MVLA

Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Superintendent Nellie Meyer confirmed in an interview that her district has also seen COVID-19 cases among students and staff. The district is reporting cases on a dashboard posted on its website, which shows five students and four adults have tested positive.

The first two students tested positive back in September, which Meyer confirmed was tied to an athletic cohort. Another three students have tested positive this month.

Three adults tested positive back in July and August. One was a staff member, the other two were construction workers involved in the building projects at Mountain View High School, Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen confirmed. A second staff member tested positive in October.

Unlike LASD, MVLA is still fully in online learning, with all classes conducted remotely. However, small groups of students started coming onto campus over the summer for athletic conditioning. More recently, the district has brought back groups of students for in-person academic support, though the classes themselves are still online.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the district notifies the county public health department, which then walks them through the next steps, Meyer said. If the student or staff member was in one of the small groups that has returned, that group is notified and told to quarantine. The county then does additional contact tracing.

“We want to make sure that we prevent any spread and isolate as needed,” Meyer said.

The district updates the online case tracker weekly but doesn’t directly notify the broader school or district each time there is a case.

The district has been considering possible scenarios for a return to in-person classes, but those plans are now on hold because the county slid back into the state’s highest risk tier for COVID-19 Tuesday.

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