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COVID cases rise at CUSD, but new vaccines offer hope

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Claremont Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward told the COURIER weeks ago he expected COVID-19 numbers to ebb and flow as the year went on, and it’s looking like that was a sage prediction.

Student and employee COVID-19 infections rose across the district again this week, with the biggest jump at Sumner Danbury Elementary, which added seven new cases. Though not an eye-popping number of new infections, the resulting 141 students quarantined — representing 33% of its overall enrollment — prompted Ward to say it looked like the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will soon be taking a look at Sumner Danbury as a possible candidate for an outbreak.

Overall the district had 196 students quarantined this week, up from last week’s total of 79. Three weeks ago that number was 48.

New cases and quarantines have risen steadily over the year since Claremont schools opened their doors September 1 for the first full year of classes since the 2018-19 term. Since then, some weeks have seen large jumps in cases, or, like this week, quarantines.

But after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced November 2 that elementary-aged students were eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, CUSD partnered with Village mainstay Hendricks Pharmacy and promptly began facilitating the implementation of this new recommendation for its youngest charges, hosting two rounds of vaccination clinics this week and last at its elementary school sites.

And those clinics are already paying dividends.

This week’s statistics for the first time included a very telling number: in addition to the 141 students at Sumner Danbury who were quarantined due to exposure to COVID, there were an additional 14 exposed kids who were vaccinated and showed no symptoms, and therefore remained in school.

The numbers will likely continue this trend, though with next week’s Thanksgiving holiday it could be two weeks before we are able to see a comparison.
Families are clearly grateful.

“The feedback has been really awesome,” Ward said of the onsite clinics. “We have a lot of people stopping by as we’re out there monitoring the clinics and saying ‘Thank you,’ and being very appreciative of the ease of the service. I think we did pretty good.”

The elementary schoolkids who got their first dose over the past two weeks are scheduled to be back for their second shots in a few weeks, at which time more first shot clinics will likely be scheduled. Its estimated that about 200 of Claremont’s youngest students availed themselves to the free shots this week and last, though Ward did not have an exact number prior to press time.

No matter where one sits with respect to vaccines, it’s no doubt good news to most Claremont families that more and more kids are being vaccinated. The numbers have already made it clear the vaccine helps to reduce classroom time lost to the highly infectious disease, and common sense tells us it also diminishes the chance of the virus infecting other vulnerable populations.
The breakdown of overall quarantines this week across CUSD looks like this:

Claremont High reported 12 unvaccinated students in quarantine, with 37 other vaccinated students exposed but able to stay in school because they were showing no symptoms.

El Roble Intermediate had 17 unvaccinated students in isolation, with 37 exposed but vaccinated kids spared from quarantine.

At the elementary level, Sumner Danbury saw those 141 students quarantined and 14 exposed but vaccinated kids allowed to remain in school; Condit had 19 students quarantined; Sycamore saw seven of its kids in isolation.

One staff member at Sumner Danbury is quarantining due to a school-based exposure. Another from CHS is also in isolation due to a non-school-based exposure. Both employees are working from home during the quarantine period.

Year-to-date COVID case numbers are as follows: Chaparral Elementary held steady for the second straight week, with four on the year; Condit added one new case, bringing its total to 23; Mountain View also held steady for the second week running, at eight; Oakmont held for the third week straight at seven; Sumner Danbury added seven, for 22; Sycamore added one case, for three on the year; and Vista del Valle remained at nine cases for the second week running. El Roble Intermediate added one, for 11 on the year; Claremont High added four, for 72; and San Antonio High remains the district’s only COVID-free campus.

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.

Appointments are available for anyone over the age of five to receive a free dose of the safe, readily available, FDA and CDC approved COVID vaccines at https://myturn.ca.gov.

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