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CUSD COVID numbers are consistently inconsistent—podcast

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

The 2021-22 public school year is nothing if not consistently inconsistent.

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Last week Claremont Unified School District reported no students or staff in quarantine for the first time since school began September 1, prompting CUSD Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward to say he hoped the good news would become a trend, not an anomaly.

This week saw 162 students and two staff quarantined, perhaps confirming it may have unfortunately been the latter.

“Maybe so,” Ward said. “Or, [maybe] the trend is kind of this up and down, small rollercoaster loops that we go through.”

The quarantines break out as follows: eight at Claremont High; 23 (one class) at Mountain View Elementary; 53 (three classrooms) at Oakmont; 11 (one classroom) at Sumner Danbury; 52 (two classrooms) at Vista; and with its first positive COVID case of the year, Sycamore had 15 students from one classroom quarantined, all for a total of 162.

The district also recorded 12 new student COVID cases and two among staff.

The overall COVID case count among students is as follows: Chaparral Elementary added one, for a total of four for the year; Condit held steady for the second week running at 18; Mountain View added two cases, for a total of six; Oakmont added three, for seven; Sumner Danbury saw four new cases, bringing it to 14; and Sycamore recorded its first case of the year. El Roble Intermediate remained at seven; Claremont High added one, for 56; and San Antonio High was left as the last COVID-free campus standing.

Two vaccinated staff members — one at Vista and one at Sumner Danbury — tested positive with breakthrough COVID diagnoses. This resulted in three additional staff members, all unvaccinated, being quarantined due to close contact with their COVID positive colleagues.

None of the five affected staff members are teachers.

Please note that new cases can increase and quarantine numbers can fluctuate up and down

throughout the week. The district’s COVID dashboard, at https://claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/covid, is updated as new information comes in. Please check there for the latest figures.

On the positive side, the new cases have thus far been what Ward described as isolated and unlinked. This is important because when enough cases get connected, the county steps in and declares an outbreak. The district has had two outbreaks thus far this year, at Condit and CHS.

Another bright note occurred Tuesday, when the Los Angeles County Department of Public

Health deemed the COVID outbreak at Claremont High School was over.

“What was positive about that process is when that team comes out and looks at our protocols, and looks at the [contact tracing] line lists and goes through everything in detail, and have no findings, just praise, accolades for the staff,” Ward said. “That’s a really good thing for us to let us know we’re doing things well.”

County health suggested last week CHS make some adjustments to improve air movement in its gymnasiums, fitness lab and weight rooms, and that it reposition some air filtration units in classrooms. All of these items were all implemented.

“So we feel positive that can we move forward and continue to keep our students and staff healthy,” Ward said.

In other CUSD COVID-related news, two of the three district employees who had asked for religious exemptions from California’s mandate that public school employees must either vaccinate or submit to weekly testing by October 15 have accepted the district’s offer of a year off without pay as an accommodation for the request.

The two employees will first expend their accrued paid vacation and sick time, and after that will be on unpaid leave for up to one year, Ward said. Under the agreement they could return to work at any time inside of that one-year unpaid leave period.

“If the mandate changes, or if their vaccination status changes, or there’s a new test that comes out that they’re willing to take, whatever the conditions are, as long as they can become compliant with the state health order, they can come back at any time,” Ward said.

If the staff members’ leave stretches beyond a year, they will then be offered the option to return to work and comply with the state order, or resign.

“There’s really no other leave options after that,” Ward said.

The third staff member who had been seeking a religious exemption agreed to begin weekly testing and is back on the job.

Again, for the latest CUSD COVID case numbers and information, go to https://claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/covid.

The district continues to offer multiple free testing clinics on Mondays from 2 to 4 p.m. at El Roble, and 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. at Sycamore; Tuesdays from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. at Vista del Valle;

Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. at Condit; and Thursdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Claremont High.

As always, anyone over the age of 12 can make an appointment to receive a free dose of the readily available, FDA and CDC approved COVID vaccine at https://myturn.ca.gov.

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