Passing period during the first week of in-person instruction at Fountain Valley High School. (Photo by Anneliese Duong)

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First COVID-19 case confirmed at FVHS

Fountain Valley High School’s first COVID-19 case has been confirmed, two weeks after Huntington Beach Union High School District schools reopened for in-person instruction on November 3. According to HBUHSD’s COVID-19 dashboard, one FVHS staff member tested positive for COVID-19. This single case currently accounts for 0.05% of the in-person population, which consists of 2,193 staff…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/cameliaheins/" target="_self">Camelia Heins</a>

Camelia Heins

November 24, 2020

Fountain Valley High School’s first COVID-19 case has been confirmed, two weeks after Huntington Beach Union High School District schools reopened for in-person instruction on November 3.

According to HBUHSD’s COVID-19 dashboard, one FVHS staff member tested positive for COVID-19. This single case currently accounts for 0.05% of the in-person population, which consists of 2,193 staff and students at the time of publication.

HBUHSD did not state when this positive case was confirmed, but the COVID-19 dashboard states that “current positive cases [were] reported within the last 14 days.”

At the time of publication, four total COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in HBUHSD schools. One case was confirmed at Marina High School, another case at Ocean View High school, one at Edison High School and one at FVHS.

On November 16, Governor Gavin Newsom placed most California counties including Orange County under the most restrictive tier of the state’s reopening: the purple tier. While business sectors and public places such as gyms and restaurants can only operate outdoors in the purple tier, schools that have already resumed in-person instruction are allowed to remain open.

In response to Newsom’s announcement, HBUHSD Superintendent Clint Harwick wrote a letter on November 16 to families and staff explaining that in order for a high school or district to shut down in-person instruction completely, a school must experience “a 5% positive testing rate of both students and staff within a 14-day period” and “25% or more of schools in the district have closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days,” as outlined by the California Department of Public Health.

CDPH guidelines also suggest that “surveillance testing be implemented based on the local disease trends” and recommends testing for employees that may have come into contact with an infected person on campus. CDPH also suggests that “schools should begin testing staff, or increase frequency of staff testing” after a county is placed on the county monitoring list.

“The district did start testing in October in accordance with the CDPH/CDE guidelines. They test all staff every 60 days,” FVHS nurse Marci McLean-Crawford said.

HBUHSD advises students and faculty to self-screen for symptoms at home before arriving on campus. The district also asks students and faculty on campus to follow social distancing guidelines, wear face coverings, get tested for COVID-19, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they experience symptoms.

Students who present symptoms on campus will be held in an isolation area until they can be picked up, and Orange County Health Care Agency officials will be contacted to work with the individual and their family for contact tracing.

In the event of a positive COVID-19 case, “school administrators and nurses will notify local health officials, staff, and families of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality,” the HBUHSD’s School Opening & Safety Plan states. Students or staff who have potentially come into contact with an infected person will be identified and notified.

Like HBUHSD, other local school districts such the Garden Grove Unified School District have implemented a frequently-updated COVID-19 dashboard. At GGUSD, students and staff are required daily to report health screenings through ParentSquare. GGUSD also sends messages through ParentSquare when a positive case is confirmed on a school campus.

HBUHSD does not require students and staff to report their daily screenings through ParentSquare but does expect them “to self screen for any COVID-19 symptoms before arriving to work or school.”

Staff that are suspected or confirmed to have a positive COVID-19 test are required to isolate at home until symptoms disappear and 14 days have passed since their last positive test.

Staff experiencing symptoms after being exposed must isolate at home until the test comes out negative. If the test is positive, the employee isolates at home until 14 days have passed since their last positive test and they show no symptoms for 72 hours.

For employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, they must self-monitor any symptoms and may continue working with a mask. If symptoms appear, the employee will be tested and isolated at home until test results are determined.

One student expressed their concern over the first confirmed case at FVHS.

“It frightens me that that one confirmed case could have increased exponentially at this point,” junior Mary Hoang said. “Staff members and students may not have experienced symptoms and think they have no reason to test for COVID-19.”

Another student expressed the importance of following guidelines and testing.

“Those who were around the individual with COVID should be tested immediately,” senior Thanh Huynh said. “Everyone is taking a big risk by choosing to do hybrid and they should understand how to keep both themselves and others safe so the number of cases at school don’t grow.”