San Diego Unified School District

San Diego Schools Are Back In Session and COVID is Still Around

NBC Universal, Inc.

Students and teachers in the San Diego Unified School District have been back in school now for more than two weeks. A check on the number of COVID-19 cases shows the semester is going well, but COVID is still in the schools.

Between Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, the first week of school, there were 393 COVID cases district-wide, including students and staff, according to the district. That is less than half of 1% of students and staff in all schools in the district.

There were 714 cases the next week of school, still less than 1%. That appears to be almost double, but the number is based on incomplete data, according to Susan Barndollar, the Executive Director of Nursing and Wellness for the district. 

“The first week of school we did not know everybody who was out because of COVID or had a community test. It’s that second week of school we were able to get all the information," Barndollar said.

There were 16 outbreaks the first week of school, according to the district. An outbreak is defined as a school having three or more positive cases in a two-week period. There were 15 the second week.

The district notifies parents at every school where there is an outbreak and strongly recommends their children wear masks; testing is not required after receiving the notice.

“It’s mostly just to emphasize that we are highly recommending masks," said Barndollar. "So knowledge is power, parents want to know, when there's an outbreak we notify the whole school .”

Indoor masking will be required at individual schools when three or more outbreaks occur, or wheremore than 5% of the students and staff are COVID positive within a two-week period. Both the outbreaks and case rate thresholds need to be met before masks become mandatory. 

“We’re not worried because currently the highest percentage of any school is 2.4%, so typically when we start to see 3.5 or 4%, and those two outbreaks, then we notify the principal at the school that it might be coming," said Barndollar. “We're just going to watch, so we’re very hopeful that maybe we don't see the spike at Thanksgiving and then one at Christmas, but we’re ready if we do.”

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