A total of four students from both of the local elementary schools tested positive on Monday for COVID-19, school officials said in a statement.
All parents of elementary school students received a general notice from the school principals informing them of the positive cases on campus. The cases were also reported on the district’s COVID dashboard. Students who were identified as having been in close contact with the individuals testing positive, as defined by the Los Angeles County Department of Health (LACDPH), received a separate notification from the school informing families that their child is required to quarantine for 7-10 days.
“The district is committed to full in-person instruction,” said Linda de la Torre, acting superintendent of the SMUSD. “To assist in the expediency of screening, monitoring and reporting of all COVID cases, as required by LACDPH, the district is in the process of hiring temporary COVID compliance support staff. There are five positions available that will be funded with one-time COVID funding.”
She continued, adding that the SMUSD “is following all LACDPH guidance to keep our students safe.”
The announcement of the infections came at an inopportune time for the district, which last week clarified its policy on wearing masks at its facilities and events in response to the perception of a contradictory message that was sent to parents ahead of the first day of school.
“The school district is following Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines with respect to the wearing of masks on all school district property, including our four school sites,” it said in a statement that went out to the community on Friday, Aug. 13. “Everyone, adults, students, teachers, staff, visitors, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask indoors,” the statement continued. “Outdoor masking is not required. However, families who would like to have their children wear masks outside, please feel free to have them do so.”
The statement was meant to clarify messages that were sent earlier in the week to families of students attending Valentine and Carver Elementary Schools. A statement from Carver had said that mask-wearing outdoors was mandatory at all times, while Valentine said it would allow students to shed their masks while outdoors unless social distancing wasn’t possible.
The difference in messaging was pointed out at a board meeting held last Tuesday evening, to the extent that School Board President Shelley Ryan scheduled an optional coffee meeting this week to allow for further discussion on the matter. The meeting took place after the Tribune’s weekly press deadline.
The SMUSD also announced that it is providing voluntary weekly COVID testing for teachers, staff and students who wish to be tested, which is seen as an optional safety measure. If families would like to have their child tested, the parent/guardian must provide consent.
Thus far, about 96% of all San Marino Unified School District employees have been fully vaccinated, according to a survey conducted in July, the district announced. On Aug. 11, California became the first state in the nation to require all teachers and staff in K-12 public and private schools to either get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID testing. Schools are required to be in full compliance with the new policy by Oct. 15 to verify vaccination status and have in place weekly testing for unvaccinated staff.
The SMUSD also announced it will provide an optional health screening form which is available online. The voluntary form encourages parents and guardians to check for COVID symptoms each morning and not send children to school with COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle or body aches, new loss of smell and taste, vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.