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COVID cases, quarantines fall across CUSD

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Claremont public schools had a relatively quiet week COVID-wise, logging just a handful of new cases and seeing its quarantine numbers drop significantly, from 162 to 48.

“Elementary looks good,” said Claremont Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward. “Most schools have no currently quarantined students as of today, with the exception of Sumner Danbury, which has 20 students; And Condit still has eight students” quarantined, Ward said. Condit’s quarantined students were due to be back in classrooms Thursday.

Claremont High School has 20 unvaccinated students in quarantine this week. The exposure that resulted in those quarantines also involved 63 vaccinated students who showed no symptoms, and were therefore allowed to remain in school.

Infections districtwide were up slightly this week: Chaparral Elementary held steady at four on the year; Condit added two, for 19; Mountain View added one as well, bringing its total on the year to seven; Oakmont held at seven; Sumner Danbury added one, boosting its year-to-date total to 14; Sycamore held at just one case and Vista del Valle reported nine cases on nthe year. El Roble Intermediate remained at seven; Claremont High added five, for 61; and San Antonio High is COVID free.

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.

The news was certainly better this week than last, when the district had 162 students and two staff quarantined. But things can change rapidly, as we’ve seen since schools opened September 1, and the data is beginning to reveal some predictable trends.

In the district’s weekly discussions with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, much of the talk has been about what’s been observed over the nearly two years since COVID shut down public schools in March 2020. The consensus there is cases will likely surge after Thanksgiving and Christmas as well.

“That’s definitely been our experience, as I think other school districts,” Ward said. “So, we’ll prepare for that, and we’ll address it if and when it comes. Hopefully it’ll be modest, but we’ll see.”

Ward said he expects the events of this past week will bring with them a surge as well.

“We’ve talked a little bit about projecting what’s going to happen in the future,” Ward said. “I’m going to predict we’re going to see an uptick after this past weekend with homecoming and Halloween. There was a lot of social gatherings in and among families in Claremont. We’ve seen that trend 10 to 14 days after those type of activities, we see an uptick in the amount of cases. But for right now we seem to be in a little bit of a good spot.”

In other news, the two vaccinated staff members who had been quarantined last week due to breakthrough COVID cases were both back on the job this week, Ward reported, as were the three unvaccinated staff who were quarantined due to close contact.

It appears the drama surrounding the three district employees who had asked for religious exemptions to the state mandate that they must either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing is drawing to a close. As reported last week, one of the three agreed to begin testing, and was back on the job. A second employee agreed to testing this week, and was also back on the job. The third is likely to return to work as well.

“I’m going to anticipate that that person will be returning soon, so we’ll be at zero, which will be again, a nice thing,” Ward said.

The trio took issue with the vaccination, of course, but also the district’s COVID testing method.

“We’ve been working really closely with our testing vendor to offer some alternative collection methods to the PCR test that the employees have agreed to start.”

The three had objected to the PCR antigen test collection methods — a nasal or cheek swab — which were all that were available up until now. The testing lab is now able to accurately evaluate saliva collection, a method the three apparently find acceptable within their religious ideology.

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 Taylor Hall.

With the news this week that the CDC is recommending COVID vaccines to children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, it would figure that new infections will begin to wane at the elementary level in the coming weeks.

To make an appointment to receive a free dose of the readily available, FDA and CDC approved COVID vaccines, go to https://myturn.ca.gov.

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