Unvaccinated students largely impacted by infection spike

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

COVID infections at Claremont High School spiked by 147% over the past week, jumping from 15 to 37 and resulting in at least 40 new quarantined students. The overwhelming majority of those quarantined students—if not all—are unvaccinated.

El Roble Intermediate, which last week reported two new cases and zero quarantines, had just one new COVID case this week, but that single infection resulted in at least 22 quarantined students, again, likely all unvaccinated.

New quarantines at the elementary level numbered at least 72, down 40% from last week’s total of 120. All of the quarantined elementary students are of course unvaccinated, as the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not yet approved the Pfizer vaccine for kids under 12.

Please note: quarantine numbers across the district are likely significantly higher, but CUSD was unable to provide updated statistics prior to press time.

New COVID case numbers rose modestly across the remainder of Claremont Unified School District’s 10 campuses. Notably, no new infections were reported at Condit Elementary, which up to CHS’s sharp increase this week had been leading the CUSD case count.

The new case number details are as follows: Claremont High made that big jump from 15 to 37; Condit, which had been leading the district in COVID diagnoses up to this week, reported no new cases this week, holding at 17 on the year; Mountain View added three cases, for five on the year; Oakmont added two, and now has four total; Vista del Valle also added two cases, bringing it to four; Sumner Danbury added three new infections, resulting in a total of nine; Chaparral held steady at two cases; El Roble Intermediate added one case, for five on the year; And Sycamore Elementary and San Antonio High remained COVID free.

Of the 37 cases at CHS since school started September 1, there have been 525 close contacts identified. Out of those close contacts, 190 have had to quarantine but 335 have been able to stay in school due to being vaccinated and symptom free. Again, please note quarantine numbers are likely significantly higher, but CUSD was unable to provide updated statistics prior to press time.
The total number of positive COVID cases districtwide since September 1 was 93 as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

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.

“It can really swing either way depending on where we are in the ten day cycle or the modified quarantine or whatever the contact tracing has us do,” said Claremont Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward.

In other CUSD COVID news, one of the district’s three staff members who asked for a religious exemption to the state heath order mandate that all public school staff must either be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID testing has been offered a leave of absence as an accommodation for his or her request.

“The health order doesn’t have any exclusions for any of these [reasons],” Ward said. “There’s not even a medical exemption in the current health order, and there isn’t a religious exemption either. So the only accommodation the district can offer is a contractual leave of absence. So I do have one employee that took us up on that, and I still have another two that are in process.”

Citing privacy concerns, Ward declined to name the three staff members seeking religious exemptions, or indicate whether or not they are teachers.

The staff member who agreed to the district’s offer of a leave of absence will first expend his or her accrued paid vacation and sick time, which amounts to about one month, and after that time will be on unpaid leave for up to one year, Ward said.

Under the agreement he or she 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 member’s leave stretches beyond a year, he or she will then be offered the option to return to work or resign.

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

Ward said he is still compiling the statistics for vaccination compliance levels among district staff, and will release those numbers soon.

The district is planning on continuing to host vaccination clinics over the next few weeks, but had none on the books as of press time. In the meantime, as always, anyone can make an appointment to receive the free, readily available vaccine—whether it’s a first, second or third booster dose—at https://myturn.ca.gov.

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.




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