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Central Coast school district to test students, staff for COVID-19

covid testing
Posted at 7:55 AM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-13 10:55:47-04

The Santa Barbara Unified School District announced plans this week to have thousands of students and staff tested for COVID-19 at the start of the school year.

This testing is being done in response to concerns about high case counts in the county.

Santa Barbara Unified is one of the first districts locally to do so.

"Currently, Santa Maria-Bonita School District is not considering swabbing students for COVID-19 viruses. We have not seen that kind of instances in our students and unless and until it becomes a requirement from the California Department of Education or the California Public Health Department or any of the agencies that oversee the guidelines for schools, it's not something that we will be doing in any cases," said Maggie White, Santa Maria Bonita School District PIO.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, Diane Frost, says her district follows guidelines from the public health department and is working to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"In addition to the masks indoors, we do have other safety precautions. We have hand and respiratory hygiene that we're really working on in our classrooms with our staff and our students. We have routine cleaning, we have increased ventilation, all a number of things that public health has said will mitigate the spread of COVID," Frost said.

Due to a statewide government mandate in California, the district will be required to test unvaccinated staff members.

"We are required to test our unvaccinated staff members weekly. I know that will go into effect on Oct. 15, but that's something we're planning for," Frost said.

Frost says they could use antigen testing surrounding high-risk activities later in the school year like large gatherings and prom, but testing for vaccinated individuals will not be a prerequisite to return to school this year in her district.

For Santa Barbara Unified, they plan to use nasal swabs to test 12,500 students and 2,000 staff members the first two to three weeks of the school year.