After a little more than a week of screening for COVID-19, the local school system said that three of its students have tested positive for the coronavirus since the beginning of the academic year.
All three cases were listed this week on the dashboard maintained by the South Pasadena Unified School District. One of the students is enrolled at Marengo Elementary School, the other two at South Pasadena High School.
The district began its surveillance testing program last week, with teachers and most students encouraged to sign up for the weekly screening; athletes are required to take weekly tests when they are in season.
A district official said 411 tests were administered last week at the drive-thru site at SPHS. The district’s dashboard indicates the number of positive tests accumulated at any given school site within the calendar month but does not differentiate between students and employees.
Per the district’s COVID-19 protocols, those unvaccinated and potentially exposed to the disease are required to enter a 10-day quarantine that may be shortened if the person is asymptomatic and produces a negative test after seven days. Currently, vaccinated people do not have to quarantine.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health does not have published records of the vaccination rate among the roughly 1,875 children ages 12-17 who live in South Pasadena, making it one of the few communities without that metric. However, it does show that as of this week, 19,824 of the 23,381 South Pasadena residents 12 and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Superintendent Geoff Yantz said that except for the three virus cases, the district had experienced a fairly successful launch to the school year two weeks ago.
“I’m impressed,” he said in a recent interview. “The kids are very happy. Teachers are doing excellent and are engaged in instruction and the teaching and learning of students.
“There’s bumps in the road, as there always are,” Yantz added. “Our primary concern is always safety, whether COVID or not, so that’s always going to be in the forefront of what we do.”
In terms of safety, employees and students are required to wear face masks when indoors. School sites also will continue to be cleaned and sanitized frequently, and the district joined others nationwide in implementing stronger air filtration systems in classrooms.
What was interesting for the elementary schools this year, Yantz added, was that they not only had kindergartners but also some 1st-graders attending school on campus for the first time this month — last year’s kindergarteners started off the year in a remote teaching model and may not have attended in-person classes when the hybrid system launched in the spring.
Another bump in the road — not just here but, apparently, nationally — is that schools have had to adjust to a currently limited supply of food for student meals.
“That was unusual,” Yantz said. “What happened was the governor and the feds basically said free lunch for everyone. Coupled with the fact that there’s a national food supply shortage for schools, that we can’t rely on the orders that we make to arrive, has created a real challenge to get schools open.
“The schools have been working really hard making the adjustments,” he added.
To view the SPUSD COVID-19 dashboard and review the district’s protocols and procedures regarding the disease, visit spusd.net.