School districts implementing health policies as students return to campus

Posted at 8:30 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 23:30:32-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — After a long, confusing, and probably frustrating year and a half, in-person school for most kids across the state is back or will be in the next few weeks.

For students returning to the classroom, there are some first-day jitters.

"It will be weird at first," said sophomore Ezekiel Castrejon.

The return to in-person learning comes as the state scrambles to try and control a sharp rise in COVID-19 positive cases. It's a situation that's putting pressure on health systems across the state.

"We're going to have increased COVID volume, so we're trying to staff up as much as we can," said Dr. Ghazala Sharieff with Scripps Health.

Kids aren't immune to the virus and some school districts that are back are seeing cases.

According to a dashboard on the Chula Vista Elementary School District's website, in August, they've had four positive staff test results and 16 positive student tests. The district says, because they offer such robust testing, they do get positive cases.

"The number involving students and staff represents a small fraction of our nearly 30,000 student enrollment — less than 1%. Most of these cases involve community spread — meaning a staff member or student was in close contact or had a positive test result from someone at home being sick," a spokesperson for the district said. "Most children contract the disease from a close relative, not from fellow students or school personnel."

The Sweetwater Union High School District has been back since July. Since they've been in school, the districts reported 181 positive covid cases.

So, what are educators doing to keep kids safe?

Most of the state guidance comes down to wearing masks indoors.

"This indoor masking requirement is really carrying the bulk of the prevention this year," said Bob Mueller, coordinator of special projects for the San Diego County Office of Education.

Mueller says schools and school districts have a lot of discretion this year. One option is testing.

It's not mandated by the state, but some districts such as the Chula Vista Elementary School District and the San Diego Unified School are making it a practice.

"We're going to actually increase our testing to make testing more available even at a weekly basis for all students and staff," San Diego Unified Board President Richard Barrera.

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state will require all teachers and school staff to show proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing.

"We think this is a sustainable way to keeping our schools open and to address the number one anxiety that parents like myself have," Newsom said.

While there's a whole host of guidance for positive tests and quarantines, educators say there are many safety, hygiene, and sanitation procedures in place.

All designed to keep kids safe and learning in the classroom.

“The overwhelming majority of our students and families are happy to have schools open again, and students continue to attend school every day even if they need to wear masks. There is nothing like the sound of students on the playground again. A lot of smiles again," said the spokesperson for the Chula Vista Elementary School District.