Virus numbers change for CUSD as new cases increase
by Mick Rhodes | firstname.lastname@example.org
Reporting on COVID-19 among Claremont public school students is an unpredictable job.
Just last week, the COURIER reported the district’s new cases fell to just one, with only 11 students quarantined. This after the previous two weeks’ quarantine numbers of 343 and 245.
Early this week this story looked as if it would consist of more good news, with cases across Claremont Unified School District’s 6,550 students rising just a hair, from one to two, and quarantines falling from 11 to 10.
But the numbers did what numbers do, and changed Thursday. Eight new cases were reported at the elementary level, which resulted in 120 students quarantined, divided fairly evenly among Vista, Oakmont, Mountain View and Condit.
Claremont High School recorded four new cases, resulting in 48 students being quarantined.
Interestingly, out of the 136 students exposed at CHS, 88 were fully vaccinated and showed no symptoms, so they were able to stay in school.
Each of the 48 students quarantined CHS was unvaccinated.
Claremont Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, Human Services, Kevin Ward looked at the numbers for quarantined versus exposed students at CHS since school started September 1: Over those five weeks, 505 students have been exposed at CHS, and 190 were quarantined. The rest of those exposed students, 315 of them, were fully vaccinated, showed no symptoms, and were allowed to remain at school.
“We continue to really encourage parents to do their research, learn about the positives of the vaccine, and get their students vaccinated,” Ward said.
The breakdown on new COVID cases is as follows:
Condit Elementary, which inexplicably leads the district in confirmed COVID infections, added two new cases this week, bringing its total to 17 since school began September 1. Mountain View also saw two new infections, boosting its total to four.
Oakmont had one new case, for a total of two on the year, and Vista del Valle had one new positive, leaving it with two thus far. Chaparral Elementary had no new cases, holding steady at two, and Sumner Danbury remained static at six cases. El Roble Intermediate added two cases, bringing its total to four. Claremont High added four new infections, bringing it to 15, and both Sycamore Elementary and San Antonio High remained COVID free. All these numbers were holding as of 9 a.m. Thursday. Check the district’s COVID dashboard at claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/covid for the latest info.
Among this week’s 48 unvaccinated kids at CHS who were sent off to quarantine, all were in close contact of a COVID positive student, within six feet for more than 15 minutes.
The contact tracing for these cases is somewhat fascinating. When a positive case is confirmed, tracers pull the seating charts for each of that student’s classes, look at a six foot radius from where that student sat in each class, and then contact trace on all the students that fall within that radius.
“So for one student, five, six classes, you pull that six foot radius from those five, six classes, and contact trace all those kids,” Ward said. “Out of the cases that are there right now, you have 48 students who are quarantined due to not being vaccinated, and 88 [vaccinated students] that were also within that circle who were able to come back to school.”
Ward added he was looking forward to the anticipated decision from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to authorize use of the Pfizer vaccine in kids younger than 12, with the hope that it will produce the good results the district is seeing among vaccinated students at the secondary levels.
Speaking of those good results, El Roble’s two new cases, and zero quarantined students carried a nugget of hope.
“That’s a combination of vaccination and just the way the close contact numbers work there,” Ward said. “Vaccination is working really well keeping our students in class and we’re very excited about that.”
Among Claremont kids aged 12 to 17, the latest data reports 88.8% of them are vaccinated, Ward said. He added that roughly 75% of the CHS and El Roble students who have been exposed to COVID since September 1 have been able to stay in school.
“Those numbers very much mirror the vaccination numbers,” he said. “That’s really a positive thing, and I think very encouraging for parents to consider that once you get students vaccinated, they can stay in school. What we’re not seeing is the vaccinated students having to then quarantine because they develop a fever or [other] symptoms.”
Ward went on to say he expects to see breakthrough cases among vaccinated kids, just as we’ve seen across the country among the inoculated adult population.
But “the percentages of breakthrough cases are extremely low, and we’re seeing that in our student population.”
On Thursday the district hosted a fully booked vaccination clinic for 188 students, staff and the public. Those looking to get vaccinated should watch upcoming communications from CUSD for dates and times of more clinics, which are all open to the public. Of course any adult can sign up for an appointment for the CUSD clinics or any other local vaccine event or location at https://myturn.ca.gov. Locally, Hendricks Pharmacy and CVS are offering appointments for first, second, and qualifying third booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“When I go back and I look at the tracing, those students that are vaccinated stay in school, and I can’t find one that developed symptoms after exposure,” Ward said. “So the vaccine seems to be holding really well in that population.”
The district has three types of quarantine for its unvaccinated students. The first two involve staying out of school. First, there’s “regular,” the longest at 10 days, which involves no testing, only quarantine. Second is “shortened,” which may end early if the student tests after day five and the results are negative. The third, “modified,” allows unvaccinated students to remain in school if: the exposure occurred at school and both the exposed student and the infected student were wearing masks correctly both indoors and outdoors; the student agrees to undergo COVID tests twice per week and provide the results to the school; the student monitors for symptoms for 14 days after last exposure; the student agrees to wear a mask indoors and outdoors at all times and stays six feet away from other students while eating; and the student agrees not to participate in extracurricular activities or childcare for a TBD length of time.
District Superintendent Jeff Wilson said in an email Monday that more than 90% of CUSD certificated staff have been vaccinated as well as those 88.8% of Claremont’s 12 to 17-year-olds. The district has tested 992 people at its two testing sites since September 8, with less than five students and just one faculty member testing positive.
“All in all, we are currently in a good place and are growing more confident by the day that a corner has been turned,” Wilson wrote. “This is not, however, the time to let our guard down and we will continue to look for opportunities to expand our testing and vaccination efforts while observing and enforcing policies and practices that help mitigate the possible spread of the virus.”
The district’s COVID dashboard lists the latest statistics on infections on its campuses, and is updated throughout the week. It is located at https://claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/covid.