In-person classes resumed Wednesday at a small school district serving students in Santa Clara County and semi-rural areas along the Santa Cruz Mountains after two campuses were shut down Friday due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Loma Prieta Joint Union School District decided to cancel in-person classes Friday after officials were notified of several cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff and students, according to a message from the district superintendent.
"We became concerned that more cases could result if strong measures were not taken," said Superintendent Kevin Grier in a statement. "We have been in contact with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and Santa Clara County Public Health Department to work through strategies to prevent this difficult and challenging change in daily instruction routine at our schools in the future."
Officials were advised to conduct rapid COVID-19 testing Friday and continued to do so through Monday. On Tuesday, Grier sent a letter to families saying enough of the rapid tests were completed and returned as negative to allow the district to reopen in-person classes.
"We were able to complete testing on 70% (300 of 432) of our student body, including the parents of those students who sent in proof of testing done at home," Grier's letter stated. "In addition, we anticipate some more students being tested over the next two days. We were also able to test nearly all of our staff. To date, all tests have come back negative. Moving forward in consultation with both County Public Health and the Santa Clara County Office of Education, we will be returning to in person instruction on Wednesday, October 13, 2021."
In the statement previously mentioned, school officials said they will conduct weekly testing of all students with parent consent and at no cost.
"At Loma, we continue to reflect on our COVID practices to better keep our students safe," the superintendent said.
Below are the changes that will be implemented upon return to in person instruction:
- Mandatory weekly testing of all students
- Using the outdoor spaces (weather permitting) as ways to still allow group projects while promoting a safer option to working together.
- Encouraging all students to let their parent(s) or an adult know immediately when they do not feel well
- Greater use of seating charts in all our programs, including after school programs
- At Loma Elementary, reducing the time required for all students to sit outdoors to eat lunch to 10 minutes to help reduce the time that students are sitting (even outdoors) unmasked
- At Loma Elementary, spreading out the picnic tables even further to increase the space between tables. (students already sit by class to assist with contact tracing
- At CT English, encouraging students to continue to wear masks at recess and lunch if they will be in close groups together talking