CUSD hopes for Christmas miracle

by Mick Rhodes |

Imagine the Claremont Unified School District as the person at a party trying to escape quietly; it’s tiptoeing toward the door, hoping to get out undetected and head home where it will put on its pajamas and curl up with a book.


To be clear, the door is the winter break, which begins at the end of the school day Friday, December 17, and it would truly be a Christmas miracle if CUSD’s COVID case numbers remained static, as they did this week, until then. At press time it remained a possibility, as the expected spike in new positive cases stemming from the recent Thanksgiving holiday hadn’t yet materialized.

“We would expect to see positive cases going up end of this week into next week,” said Claremont Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward. “So we’ll keep an eye on everything, and when you and I chat next week, we’ll be able to see if we really did experience anything that’s going to increase due to the Thanksgiving break.”

Fingers crossed.

Claremont High reported 16 of its students in quarantine this week, and 27 who were exposed but did not have to isolate because they were vaccinated. Chaparral Elementary had 10 of its students in quarantine. That was it as of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. This data continues the positive trend of drastically reduced quarantine numbers; last week it reported 14, but the week prior 196 were isolated.

Districtwide, year-to-date positive cases crept up slightly as of 10 a.m. Wednesday. Among elementary schools, Chaparral reported one new case, for five on the year; Condit held steady at 24; Mountain View, which has gone a month since its last reported case, held at eight; Oakmont held at eight for the second week running; Sumner Danbury held at 24; Sycamore added four new cases, bringing its total to seven; and Vista del Valle reported six new infections, for 17 on the year. El Roble Intermediate School added one case, for 18. Claremont High’s numbers inched up from 74 last week to 79. And once again, San Antonio High remained 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, is updated as new information comes in. Please check there for the latest figures.

Last week Ward and the COURIER discussed the possible implications of the Omicron variant, which had just been detected in California. Since then it has spread throughout the country, but it’s still up in the air whether it will ravage the population as efficiently as the earlier Delta variant.

“I think we’re still waiting for the data,” Ward said. “We’re waiting to see if we experience those cases, and to what extent that is. We feel we have the tools and the procedures in place to address any spike in our positive student cases. So I feel that we’re ready, and like everyone I think we’re crossing our fingers and hoping that it’s not severe. We’ll see.”

The district continues to offer weekly testing for its unvaccinated staff.

“Testing is going very smoothly,” Ward said. “I think people have probably fallen into the routine. It seems to be working very well, having full compliance issues, no real challenges.”

It also completed second dose vaccine clinics for its students and staff last week, and continues to offer multiple free testing clinics for its students and the public 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.

Testing will of course take a break for the holidays, but will resume when school is back in session after the new year.

“We have a short window to get through here, potentially, and obviously we’re going to watch our student cases very closely when we come back from winter break, because you’ll have people traveling and getting together,” Ward said.

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 and booster shots at



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