- Santa Clara Unified School District
Special COVID-19 Update: January 12, 2022
January 12, 2022
Dear SCUSD Community,
Below is a midweek special update in follow-up to last Friday’s special update. Please also make sure to read our District Update newsletters which have a standing “COVID-19 Update” for the latest news about public health guidance and district protocols and services. The District Update is published the Friday after each regular board meeting (typically twice a month).
Our on-site weekly screening testing program (operated by Concentric Testing) is a critical layer of our safety measures. Especially during this surge, we are asking every family to help us by having each of your students signed up for weekly testing, regardless of vaccination status.
- Sign Up: Submit a signed consent form to your school office (you can download the form here or request a hard copy from your school office)
Weekly testing allows us to identify and isolate covid-positive students and staff who are not yet exhibiting symptoms. Additionally, should a student be identified as a school-based close contact to a positive case, in most situations, they will qualify to continue with in-person learning under a modified quarantine which requires testing. In this situation, being enrolled in the weekly testing program is the most efficient option for both your family and our staff — you will not have to seek outside testing through your health care provider, the county, or our central testing center (all of which are experiencing long wait times) and our staff will have access to your test results requiring less follow up during a time that we are experiencing limited staff resources and time.
Positive Cases and Known Exposures — Repeat from January 7th
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).
*Due to the volume of cases, we are making adjustments to the contact tracing and notification systems. Please continue to watch your email for these updates.
**Our staff spent the weekend adjusting daily protocols and supports to meet the demands of this surge. While we've been in the adjustment process, with limited staff resources and time, our priority focus is on positive cases and close contacts. The dashboard is a tool for non-close contacts. We are working to keep this tool updated as quickly as possible during the surge. The dashboard data is updated with most cases reported through last Thursday. We are in the process of entering cases that came in Friday-Wednesday and implementing a new process for keeping on track with daily updates going forward. Thank you for your patience as staff and protocols adjust. At this time, despite the high number of cases, we have not seen any in-school transmission and all cases seem to be community-acquired.
California Governor and California Public Health Department (CDPH) Updates
Boosters: If you are booster eligible, you are now considered fully vaccinated on the day you receive your booster dose (new since last week). If you are eligible and unboosted, you must follow guidance for unvaccinated individuals. More: see booster eligibility guidance from CDC
Staffing Assistance: On January 11, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-3-22 announcing emergency provisions that give school districts more flexibility in hiring substitutes to cover teacher absences.
Santa Clara County Public Health Department (SCCPHD) Updates
At-Home Tests: SCCPHD announced that it will allow FDA-authorized at-home testing for a return to in-person school from isolation and quarantine. They are also allowed for clearing students who are exhibiting covid-like symptoms, except for the covid-specific symptoms of loss of taste or smell which requires a negative PCR test for clearance to return to school.
- SCUSD Protocol: You must submit a photo of your test results with the student’s name and date of the test included in the photo and include a written attestation as follows: “I [guardian’s name] attest that this is my child’s [student’s name] test result and it has not been altered.” The district is developing and rolling out a centralized process for submitting results. In the meantime, please submit your results as requested by your school’s health office (students) or Human Resources (staff).
Guidance: SCCPHD is in the process of reviewing and updating its school guidance, flow charts, and notice template to align with the updated CDPH guidance.
- SCUSD Protocol: 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 and quarantine periods applicable to them. Any notice you receive from your school or work location is the most current SCCPHD notice at that time.
SCUSD Vaccination Clinic
SCUSD will host two vaccination clinics over the next month where anyone 5 years and older can receive 1st, 2nd, and booster doses.
- When/Where: Cabrillo Middle School, on January 29th and February 19th from 12-7 p.m.
- No appointment needed (first come first served while supplies last)
- No insurance needed
Proper Masking at School and Work
Students and staff should wear a properly-fitted mask each day. SCCPHD recommends any of these good mask options: (1) surgical mask, (2) surgical mask under cloth mask (“double-masking”), or (3) KN95 or KF94 mask. (More: SCCPHD Mask Recommendations)
All school and work locations have extra surgical masks available for students and staff. We are also in the process of acquiring KN95 masks.
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 TOSAs (teachers on special assignment/teacher coaches) and central office administrators.
We understand the strain and frustration placed on families when a student is unable to attend school as scheduled due to required isolation and quarantine timelines. CDPH and SCCPHD guidelines are in place to mitigate the risk of in-school transmission of the virus so that our schools can stay open for in-person instruction. We appreciate your partnership in our efforts to keep our schools open and healthy.
School and District Closures
There are no plans to close districts and move to distance learning at this time. There are two situations in which a school or a district could legally temporarily close and neither apply to SCUSD at this time.
- Public health departments may consider closing a school or a district due to classroom or school outbreaks. There are no outbreaks in SCUSD.
- The county and state superintendent may consider granting a waiver to a district to close a school or district due to staffing shortages, only after all options have been exhausted. SCUSD has been able to cover staff absences and maintain essential district operations.