According to district numbers, 184 cumulative cases were recorded among students and staff from Aug. 1, 2020, the first day for all schools to need to report new confirmed cases, to Jan. 2, an average of about one case every three days.
From January 3 to 15, the district reported 681 new cases or approximately 52 cases per day. With a sudden increase in positive cases within the first two weeks of the second semester, the district was compelled to close down all schools last week and “consider distancing, pull[ing] back, … and gear[ing] up additional measures and protocols to return to school safely,” Tran said.
The decision-making process to cancel classes next week involved district board members, administrators, and senior leaders of the teacher union and classified union, CCUSD Superintendent Quoc Tran said.
The district had already been scheduled to be closed on Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and a pre-determined pupil-free day on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
However, through gaining a better handle on testing and implementing other COVID-19 measures, such as continuing to administer medical-grade KF94 masks to all students and staff, the belief is that the district can return next week and avoid additional instructional days to have to be canceled — although this decision would ultimately come down to the LA County Department of Public Health, who have the authority to issue a temporary closure of individual classes or the school district altogether.
If the transmission rate were to experience a sudden increase at CCUSD schools once again, Tran said he would consider canceling further school days with the guidance of other administrative leaders, but does not “foresee that we [CCUSD] will have to repeat this action again at this point.”
Prior to the currently scheduled return to school on Jan. 24, all students and staff will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 test result. Those who had already registered into the district-wide weekly testing system were able to be tested through a drive-thru event from Tuesday through Thursday.
Students who have not yet signed up into the system can be self-tested using an at-home COVID test kit that all students were sent home with two weeks ago, which is valid within 24 hours before the return to school. The cancellation of school this week provided all students and staff the opportunity to register into the system, in the hopes that 100% of the district will have signed up by Jan. 24.
With Jan. 18 the deadline for all staff members to have to be vaccinated or risk their jobs, the break also gave the district additional time to find replacement teachers for next week, Tran said.
Due to state legislation forbidding all California public schools from mandating distance learning, CCUSD’s only option if they were to close schools again at some point throughout the school year would be by canceling all classes. Currently, an independent study program is the only legal option for any CCUSD student to avoid physically attending school.
The three canceled school days will be made up in the future on dates that have not yet been determined, although they will most likely be rescheduled at the end of the school year, according to Tran, who will help make the decision with the support of staff union members.
As of now, however, the hope is that the additional protocols and safety measures will be enough to prevent CCUSD from having to further postpone the school year.