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CUSD virus numbers continue to fluctuate-podcast

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

COVID-19 cases rose again this week at Claremont High School, with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health deeming the newest of its 43 infections an outbreak.

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The new cases, up from 37 last week, resulted in 82 CHS students quarantined, all of them unvaccinated. There were 266 students who were also potentially exposed, but those kids were vaccinated and showed no symptoms, so they were allowed to remain in school.

In other quarantines across Claremont Unified School District, Mountain View Elementary added no new cases, holding at five for the year, but had 27 students quarantined. Vista de Valle added two cases, for six on the year, and has 44 students quarantined.

All other CUSD school sites were at zero quarantined students as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Districtwide, new case numbers, again as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, were as follows: Condit reported one new case this week, resulting in a total of 18 on the year; Oakmont held steady at four; Sumner Danbury also had no new cases, remaining at nine; Chaparral held at two cases; El Roble Intermediate added one case, for six on the year; And Sycamore Elementary and San Antonio High remained COVID free.

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.

The county health department was due to inspect CHS’s campus and protocols on Wednesday and was expected to make recommendations and/or take further actions, said CUSD Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward.

Just as when it determined Condit had an outbreak three weeks ago, LACDPH will likely recommend CHS be sure certain protocols, such as outdoor masking when six-foot distancing isn’t possible, ample signage on campus, increased cleaning, and making sure its contact tracing is up to speed and detailed, are all in place during the “outbreak period,” which Ward said will likely be 10 days.

If CHS can get through the outbreak period without any additional positive cases connected to an in-school exposure, the county would then likely lift the outbreak order. If cases to increase during this period, the outbreak order could be extended.

“We’ll work with their team and do what they need us to do and then continue to monitor any additional cases we get through the outbreak period,” Ward said. “Hopefully we won’t have to extend it.”

The LACDPH recommendations for Condit’s outbreak were helpful, Ward said, but didn’t amount to anything more than the district was already doing there and at its nine other school sites.

“Our protocols are really tight. We have a really exceptional health services staff, excellent administration, and the staff and the students are all doing their part. So, we’re not finding any big gaps in the implementation of our protocols.”

County health’s website says three or more connected cases—where a student is infected on campus—in any school setting constitutes an outbreak. But in implementation, it is working with five or more, Ward said.

“They haven’t really stated why, likely staffing shortages or other issues that they’re facing. But we had more than five connected cases at CHS last week.”

It’s not pleasant to read about Claremont kids contracting a potentially deadly disease or being quarantined. But in perspective, Ward says the news isn’t all bad.

“Even with the number of positive cases at CHS, you have to remember that’s out of over 2,000 students,” he said. “And you add another 200 to 250 staff on top of that. So, the numbers are super low. And I think that five connected cases threshold is very conservative, and appropriately so. We need to really jump on any connected cases and make sure that you stop that, and break that connection cycle. And that’s exactly what the designation ‘outbreak’ hopes to achieve, is to break that cycle so you don’t have those numbers spread. This is a very contagious disease. You don’t want those number spreading.”

Meanwhile, the 2021-22 school year rolls on. It’s weird. It’s unprecedented. But it’s happening, and things are beginning to seem somewhat, dare we say, normal?

“It’s interesting,” Ward said. “It’s become part of kind of the daily operations. It’s not that it’s easy. It’s getting to be more part of our regular routine. It’s an interesting addition to the workflow. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of staff to monitor. We’re just trying to keep up with it and keep our students and our staff safe.”

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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