School districts on the Central Coast are beginning to prepare for the school year by addressing their approach to handling COVID-19.
Class is starting for many K-12 schools in the next two weeks.
While many school districts say they have their own unique approach to how they will handle the health and wellness of their students, many of their protocols will be carried out in a similar manner.
“We do meet as a group and talk about what this district is doing versus other districts trying to make sure that we're all in alignment,” said District Nurse of Paso Schools Ashley Aiello. “We are pretty much in the same spot that we were in June. “
“Our protocols going into this new school year are pretty much the same as those we ended with,” said San Luis Coastal Lead Credentialed School Nurse Grace Van Doren.
The approach to handling COVID-19 is a commonality shared by the San Luis Coastal Unified School District and the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.
“If a student has any symptoms of COVID-19, they need to go home,” said Aiello. “If they test negative, they can come back when they're symptom-free for 24 hours. If they test positive, then they go into that isolation procedure which is between five to ten days.”
“If you have symptoms aligned with COVID-19, then you go home,” said Van Doren. “Once you feel better, you can come back after providing a negative COVID test. You have to be fever-free for 24 hours [and] test negative before you can come back to school.”
Contract tracing and required masking are no longer in effect for either district.
“We do notify parents if there is a positive exposure in the student's classroom,” said Aiello. “If students are healthy and they're asymptomatic, they can be in school.”
“For San Luis Coastal, masking is optional,” said Van Doren. “Students and staff may wear masks if they wish, or they do not have to. If you are negative on day five, you can come back to school on day six, masks through day ten. But if you continue to test positive, then you are welcome back on day 11.”
The hope for school districts is to have their staffing situation prepared for potential COVID-19 breakouts.
“It is important we are having permanent subs that can rotate in and just having a larger bank of individuals that can come in and help,” said Aiello.
“The past couple of years have shown us that we can innovate, we can be flexible, we can be resilient, even through tough times,” said Van Doren.
The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District said they are still trying to determine what their approach will be regarding limiting the spread of COVID-19.
The Lucia Mar Unified School District will have a health department meeting this week to solidify their approach.