SMUSD: Update/Reminder on LACDPH Policy Changes
Dear SMUSD Families and Community,
Welcome back to the first day of school after winter break! As mentioned in my previous communication, Los Angeles County is experiencing a surge in the number of COVID cases due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. The daily test positivity rate was 21.8% as of Sunday. Last month, the rate was less than 1%. The good news is that we have a high rate of vaccination among our employees and students and we continue to adhere to implemented health and safety protocols in accordance with CDC and LACDPH guidelines.
Dr. Choi and I participated in a meeting with Dr. Barbara Ferrer from LACDPH this morning and she informed us that they expect the number of positive cases to continue to increase over the next couple of weeks. However, absent outbreaks, she said there is no plan to close schools. If we all work together we can keep our kids and staff members safe and healthy.
As a reminder, on 12/31/21, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) issued the following policy changes that will go into effect within the first two weeks of schools reopening:
• Testing will be required for asymptomatic close contacts of infected individuals remaining in school. Ideally, students are tested immediately after exposure and then again on day 5; at minimum, students would be tested on day 5. This would apply to all close contacts allowed to remain in school including fully vaccinated (and boosted where eligible) close contacts who are not required to quarantine and students who had mask-to-mask contact with the infected individual and are eligible for modified (in-school) quarantine.
• Masks will be required outdoors in crowded spaces where physical distancing is not feasible except when actively eating or drinking.
• All staff will be required to wear upgraded (surgical/respirator) masks. These are being distributed to staff today.
• A 7-day suspension will be required along with DPH approval before resuming activity of any youth sports team in which there has been an outbreak of four or more epidemiologically linked cases over a 14-day period. Individual conditioning and skill building may continue during the suspension period as long as everyone on the team complies fully with any individual isolation or quarantine orders that apply.
• It is recommended that all students wear a well-fitting, non-cloth mask of multiple layers of non-woven material with a nose wire. Such masks for students are available at school if requested.
• It is recommended that all eligible staff and students receive a booster vaccine and as such are working to set up clinics for easy access as soon as possible.
I know that these changes may be frustrating for some; however, as stressed during the meeting with health officials this morning, this is only temporary. Dr. Ferrer emphasized: “Well-fitting and high-quality masks are an essential layer of protection when children are in close contact with others, especially when indoors or in outdoor crowded spaces where distancing is not possible. Although masks can be bothersome and even uncomfortable for some, given that many infected individuals are spreading COVID 1-2 days before they are symptomatic, the physical barrier tendered by a mask is known to reduce the spread of virus particles.” Understanding this, let’s all do our part in working together to continue to provide safe and healthy learning environments for our students and staff.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Dr. Choi or myself at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks in advance for your understanding and support.
Linda de la Torre, Ed.D.
San Marino Unified School District (SMUSD), 1665 West Dr., San Marino, (626) 299-7000 or visit smusd.org.