- Santa Clara Unified School District
Special COVID-19 Update: January 7, 2022
January 7, 2022
Dear SCUSD Community,
This week has been a unique return to school for our students, families, and staff.
On Monday, before the first day back to school, we distributed over-the-counter iHealth Antigen Test Kits to more than 7,000 students to administer at home. We are grateful that the State of California was able to provide us with these free kits to help identify and isolate asymptomatic students before they returned to campus and developed symptoms. We had reports of many positive cases throughout Santa Clara Unified’s schools and work locations. Most cases from this week do not appear on our COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard as, due to the break, they were not on campus while infectious.
Testing centers and labs across the state are inundated due to the current COVID surge, resulting in long waiting times, our testing center and screening program included. Concentric and Grapefruit are not getting the results back in the time they normally do. Both are doing all they can to increase staffing to meet the demand. We are also working on plans to enhance our internal system and hope to have an update to the community early next week.
Positive Cases and Known Exposures
Our testing system and our nurses, health offices, and front offices have done an amazing job identifying positive cases and their close contacts.
We are focused on ensuring students and employees who test positive stay home, and on notifying close contacts of exposures. We have a centralized system in place to track and monitor positive cases and close contacts to ensure follow-up testing is occurring in accordance with SCCPHD guidance. Due to the current volume of work to identify and notice positive cases and close contacts, and the resulting strain on our system, our sites will no longer send “non-close contact” notices to families. Instead, if you are interested in tracking COVID-19 cases on your site, you can check our COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard.
- Close Contacts: You will receive a Santa Clara County Public Health notice from your school or work location with instructions on what to do if you have a known close contact exposure to a positive case.
- Non-Close Contacts: If you do not receive a Santa Clara County Public Health close contact notice from your school or work location, you have not been in close contact with a positive case and do not need to take any action. You can continue to attend school or work as long as you do not have COVID-19 symptoms or have not been in close contact with a known positive case. If you would like to be tested as an extra precaution, you can participate in our on-site weekly screening testing program (operated by Concentric Testing) or visit our central testing center (operated by Grapefruit Testing).
California Public Health Department (CDPH) Updates
- Guidance: Current K-12 School Guidance is still in place until CDPH updates (currently in development).
- Boosters: Boosters are now available to anyone 12 years and older. If given a Pfizer vaccine, you are now eligible after 5 months. If you are vaccinated and eligible for a booster but not yet boosted, please get boosted as soon as possible. Until you are 14 days past your boost dose, you must follow guidance for unvaccinated individuals. More: see booster eligibility guidance from CDC
- Isolation (Positive Cases) and Quarantine (Close Contacts): This week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) revised guidance on the length of time a person who has tested positive for COVID must isolate. (See SCCPHD section below for local implications.)
Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) Updates
- Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) is in the process of reviewing and updating its guidance, flow charts, and notice template to align with the updated CDPH guidance.
- At 6 p.m. this evening (1/7), SCCPHD announced that it will allow FDA-authorized at-home testing for a return to in-person school from isolation and quarantine. The district is developing a process to implement this across the system and communicate with those currently affected.
- SCUSD will continue to process positive test results/cases and provide our students and staff with the most up-to-date SCCPHD instructions on the isolation periods applicable to them. Any notice you receive from your school or work location is the most current SCCPHD notice at that time.
Proper Masking at School and Work
Students and staff should wear a properly-fitted mask each day. All locations have extra surgical masks available for students and staff.
Reporting COVID Circumstances
It is essential to the health and safety of our community that COVID positive test results, known exposures to COVID, and COVID symptoms are reported to your school or supervisor immediately and follow the instructions in the SCCPHD notice you receive.
We are experiencing much higher than normal absence rates for both students and staff. We appreciate the commitment of our staff as they cover these absences in creative ways, including deploying central office administrators. We understand the strain placed on families when a student is unable to attend school as scheduled.
School and District Closures
Only public health departments have the legal authority to close a school or a district and move to distance learning — there are no plans to close districts at this time.
Given the situation, we had an amazingly safe and successful return to school following the holiday season. We truly appreciate your continued understanding, support, and patience. We also appreciate how diligently the Santa Clara Unified community has prioritized health and safety.