SMUSD Families: New COVID-19 Updates

SMUSD Families: New COVID-19 Updates
Posted on 01/10/2022
1.12.2022 Update:
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Dear SMUSD families, 


As we are settling into our routines being back from Winter Break, I wanted to share a couple updates with you. 


Test Kits headed home

As a reminder, we have received our allotment of test kits and will begin distribution tomorrow, January 13, 2022. Each student will receive one test kit, which contains two tests. Please be on the lookout for these test kits that will be coming home with your student to be used at parent/guardian discretion as detailed below.


In an effort to maintain in-person learning, the use of at-home tests will be accepted until January 27, 2021.


You may use the test to your discretion as below:


  • As a screening tool if your child is experiencing any COVID-like symptoms:

-Please keep your student home until they are tested

-If results are positive please stay home and contact your school

-If results are negative please stay home and confirm with a PCR test. Please notify your student’s school of the PCR results.

  • If your student is isolating due to a positive test and symptoms are improving or resolved, they can use this test on day 5, and if negative, return on day 6.
  • If your student is quarantined as a close contact the test can be used as evidence of a negative test to return to school.

How to use the at-home test:

  • Detailed instructions on how to use the test are included in the test kit
  • For detailed video instructions on how to administer the at-home test, please view this video from iHealth, by clicking here. 
  • Take a photo of the result as evidence to provide to your school

Contact Tracing and Notification  

Keeping our schools open, and our students & staff safe, continues to be our goal for this year. With our safety protocols and mitigation efforts in place, we are working hard to keep our schools open safely. However with case rates increasing and our current staffing shortages, we simply cannot sustain the ability to conduct detailed contact tracing. 


We have been in consultation with the County of San Diego Health & Human Services, and are temporarily altering contact tracing efforts and will instead move to classroom notifications. This means a notification will be sent to students who shared a classroom with a student or staff member who tested positive, and they will be asked to monitor for symptoms. We understand that you may have questions about who may have tested positive; however, we are prohibited by law from sharing that information with you. Additionally, we also have our updated COVID Dashboard that has been revamped by school site so you can more easily see and monitor cases.


The district is continuing all efforts to ensure those who test positive for COVID are not on campus in our school community, through our on-site SMUSD testing sites and notification processes in place. 


Both the CDC and CDPH concur that in-person school benefits students, which is why we are doing everything possible to address the number of absences due to illnesses, isolation, and quarantine among our staff and students during this surge. 



Masking

Masking indoors will continue as a part of our safety protocols for both students and staff. More information regarding the proper types of masks can be found by visiting the CDC website by clicking here. A CDC Guide to Masks, including mask hygiene, can be found by clicking here.


Additionally, Gov. Newsom announced last week that the state will provide a supply of N95 masks for all K-12 students and staff members in the state. We have not received details yet about how many masks we will receive or when. We will share additional information with you as soon as we know more.


Virtual Meetings

Because we are working hard to keep our staff safe, we have added extra layers of mitigation. All staff meetings will now be held virtually rather than gathering in small groups or spaces.


Additionally, it has been the commitment of our Governing Board to continue to conduct meetings in person, despite many school boards in the county conducting virtual meetings.

However, due to the recent surge in cases, we will be moving the January 18, 2022 Governing Board meeting to a virtual meeting. We welcome your engagement and participation, please click here for details. Please note, the Agenda will be posted 72 hours prior to the next meeting.   


While this is not required by the health department, to keep all staff healthy and schools open, we consider these to be prudent measures at the present time. 


We thank you for working together with us to keep our students and staff in school safely. 


Sincerely, 


Dr. Andy Johnsen

Superintendent




1.10.2022 Update:
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Dear SMUSD Families, 


We are thrilled to welcome your students back today after Winter Break! 

In visiting several of our schools today, it has been inspiring to see our students and staff enjoying their return back to campus. This affirms our goal for this year—which has been to do everything possible to keep our schools open, keep our students in class, and keep our students and staff safe—is exactly what our students need.


If your student was tested over the break and you are still awaiting results, but they are not experiencing any symptoms and have not been exposed to COVID as a close contact, you do not need to wait to send your student to school. We are ready to welcome them back to class!


With this, we are pleased to share that we received a shipment of State-provided COVID test kits for students. Students will receive a test kit at school this Thursday, January 13, 2022 for at-home testing. If a student is absent from school, their parents/guardian will be able pick up a kit at the front office during business hours starting Thursday. Each kit contains two tests. 


Parents/Guardians may use the tests at their discretion as outlined below:


  • As a screening tool if your student is experiencing symptoms, or if you were unable to test prior to returning to school from Winter Break. COVID-19 testing is optional and is not required to return to school. 
  • If your student already has had a positive test, you may use one of the tests in the kit on or after Day 5 of isolation, as evidence of a negative result to return to school. In an effort to maintain in-person learning and address the lack of available testing appointments at local clinics, the at-home tests will be accepted as evidence of your student’s negative result. 
  • Any unused tests can be saved for if or when your student might experience symptoms or be identified as a close contact to a positive case. 

How to use the at-home test:


  • Detailed instructions for how to use the test are included in the test kit. 
  • For detailed video instructions on how to administer the at-home test, please view this video from iHealth, by clicking here. 

How to understand the results:


  • If the test is negative: If your student feels well and has no COVID-19 symptoms, they should return to school. 

  • If the test is positive:

Stay home from school and contact your doctor and your school right away. 

Please see the updated Decision Tree as the time needed for isolation may vary depending on if they have symptoms present.


  • If the test results are not clear: 

Retest at one of our SMUSD testing locations, which are reserved for students and staff, or another community testing site. 


Thank you for your patience and partnership in maintaining a safe & healthy school year for our students and staff.


Sincerely, 

 

Dr. Andy Johnsen

Superintendent



1.7.2022 Update:

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Dear SMUSD Families, 

Ahead of our return to school this Monday, January 10, 2022, we wanted to share a few additional updates with you. 

Return to School: Safe & In Person

At SMUSD we are committed to a safe, in-person return to school, and also acknowledge some concern regarding the increase in COVID cases both locally and across the nation. While our case rates have remained less than 1% through this school year thanks to the efforts of our staff, students and families, we are seeing an increase in positive cases at this time. As we return to school on Monday we will continue to follow our established safety protocols, and we thank you for your continued diligence in observing these measures.

Our commitment to in-person education is also supported by both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The CDC states that students benefit from in-person learning, and the CDPH recently noted that infections in students and school staff are not necessarily the result of exposure at school. COVID-19 transmission remains much more likely to occur among people living in the same household or participating in other non-school activities.   

 

Staffing Challenges

We are also seeing an uptick in positive cases amongst staff, and like nearly every sector, we are currently experiencing some staffing challenges. Upon our in-person return, we ask for your understanding and flexibility. While each school site is well prepared for Monday’s return, each day with the pandemic brings the possibility of potential staff shortages. Your student’s regular teacher may be out, or school operations may adjust to meet these challenges. Please know that our entire district team is working diligently to ensure that our staffing shortages minimally impact school sites and we are keeping safety at the forefront.

Delayed Testing Kits & Expanded Testing

Consistent with our messages from earlier this week, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) which is coordinating the delivery of rapid test kits to districts, has still not received their full shipment from the State and we continue to hold our place on the waitlist. As soon as we have additional information, we will be sure to share it with you. 

As you know, we are responding by expanding our SMUSD COVID Testing Schedule for staff & students and we recently expanded again to include testing hours this Saturday. Our goal is to best accommodate staff and students who may have been out of the area or unable to test earlier this week.

The SMUSD Testing Schedule for Saturday is as follows:

 

  • NEW - District Office: Saturday, Jan. 8th, from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Should your student test positive, keep them home from school and contact your doctor and your school, and follow the guidance in the Decision Tree (details below). And of course, if your student’s test is negative and feels well and has no COVID-19 symptoms, we look forward to their return to campus on January 10, 2022.

 

 

Quarantine & Isolation Updates 

Today we have received updated guidance and a new Decision Tree from San Diego County that outlines updated quarantine and isolation changes that will take effect immediately. We realize the new Decision Tree offers a lot of information and detail. 

 

We have summarized a few of the key changes:

  • If your student is positive, they may continue to isolate for a full 10 days, and return on day 11
    OR
  • If your student is positive and has no symptoms, they may return on day 6 if 1) they test negative 2) bring their negative result to school staff 
  • If deemed a close contact, the changes may eliminate or shorten time off school for certain individuals.

 

See the full Decision Tree, by clicking here 

 

 

Vaccination Clinics

SMUSD has worked with our community partners to provide free COVID-19 vaccination and flu clinics to our community. We are offering several upcoming vaccination clinics at our school sites, please click here for the full schedule and details. 

 

 

Additionally, if you are qualified and interested in filling one of our open positions, including substitute teachers, please click here for more information and to apply.

Once again, we thank you for your patience and continued support throughout this school year. We look forward to seeing our students and staff this Monday, January 10, 2022!

 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Dr. Andy Johnsen

Superintendent


1.5.2022 Update:
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Dear SMUSD families,

As promised earlier this week, we have a brief update to share with you regarding the status of COVID test kits to be provided by the State. 

COVID-19 Test Kits

The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), which is coordinating the delivery of the kits to districts, have informed us that they have received only half of the allotment of test kits from the State. Upon receiving the announcement kits were partially in stock, we immediately reached out to obtain the supply for our students. We have since discovered that SMUSD has not been included in this first distribution and have been placed on a wait list. The SDCOE does not have an estimated delivery date from the State on when they will receive the remainder of the test kits.

As soon as we receive further information regarding when we will receive the test kits, we will send a follow-up communication with details regarding the SMUSD test kit distribution plan.

I want to remind our families that COVID-19 testing is optional and is not required to return to school this coming Monday, January 10, 2022.

As previously shared, due to the delay of the test kits for students, we have proactively worked to expand our SMUSD testing schedule this week.

SMUSD Expanded Testing

While testing before returning to school is not required, we have worked to expand our SMUSD testing hours and locations this week as follows:

 

  • District Office: Monday-Friday, Jan. 3rd - Jan. 7th, from 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  • San Marcos High School: Wednesday, Jan. 5th, from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Mission Hills High School: Thursday, Jan. 6th, from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • La Mirada Academy: Friday, Jan. 7th, from 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

The test results from our SMUSD testing locations are typically received within 24-48 hours. With allergies and colds also present in our communities, please keep your students home if they are exhibiting any COVID-like symptoms and have them tested as soon as possible. 

Should your student test positive, keep them home from school and contact your doctor and your school right away. And of course, if your student’s test is negative and feels well and has no COVID-19 symptoms, we look forward to their return to campus on January 10, 2022. 

At SMUSD we are committed to continuing in-person instruction and want to emphasize our safety protocols, along with the diligence of our staff and families, have been extremely effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19, resulting in our COVID positive case rates remaining less than 1% this school year. 

 

We sincerely thank you for your patience as we continue to work diligently to meet our goal for this year; to keep our schools open, keep our students in class, and keep our students and staff safe. 

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Andy Johnsen

Superintendent




1.3.2022 Update:

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Dear SMUSD families,

 

As we prepare to welcome students back to class next week, we have several important COVID-19 updates to share with our students and families. 

 

SMUSD Safety Protocols 

Thanks to the diligence of our staff and families, we are grateful that our COVID positive case rates have remained less than 1% this school year. 

 

We also acknowledge the growing concern over an increase in COVID cases both locally and across the nation, and realize some families may be wondering if there will be a return to distance learning. At SMUSD we are committed to continuing in-person instruction and are excited to welcome students back on January 10, 2022. Our safety protocols have been extremely effective in limiting the spread of COVID-19 at our schools, and will remain in place as we welcome students and staff back to school.

 

In fact, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently shared that infections diagnosed in students and school staff have not been as a result of exposure at school, and COVID-19 transmission remains much more likely to occur among people living in the same household or participating in other non-school activities. 

 

Additionally, we can all help prevent one another from getting sick by following county, state, and national guidelines like regular handwashing, masking, testing, and getting vaccinated. 

 

COVID-19 Test Kits

To help provide the safest possible in-person return to school from Winter Break, the State will be providing free COVID-19 test kits for public school students. The COVID-19 test is optional and is not required to return to school next Monday.

 

The San Marcos Unified School District will be distributing the test kits to students, however we have been notified by the San Diego County Office of Education, which is coordinating the delivery of the kits to districts, that they do not have a confirmed delivery date at this time. While we have requested the kits for all SMUSD students, we are unsure when we will receive them and if they will provide us with our requested supply. As many of you can relate, we are disappointed we have not yet received our allocation from the State, but will continue to work to obtain further information. As soon as we know more, we will send a follow-up communication with details regarding SMUSD test kit distribution days and times. 

 

Because of the uncertainty regarding receiving the test kits for students, we have proactively worked to expand our SMUSD testing schedule this week.

 

SMUSD Expanded Testing

While testing before returning to school is not required, the CDPH recommends that families administer a test before sending your children back to school on Monday, January 10, 2022.  In response, we have worked to expand our SMUSD testing hours and locations this week as follows:

  • District Office: Monday-Friday, Jan. 3rd - Jan. 7th, from 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
  •  San Marcos High School: Wednesday, Jan. 5th, from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Mission Hills High School: Thursday, Jan. 6th, from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  •  La Mirada Academy: Friday, Jan. 7th, from 7 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

 

 

The test results from our SMUSD testing locations are typically received within 24-48 hours. With allergies and colds also present in our communities, please keep your students home if they are exhibiting any COVID-like symptoms and have them tested as soon as possible. Should your student test positive, keep them home from school and contact your doctor and your school right away. And of course, if your student’s test is negative and feels well and has no COVID-19 symptoms, we look forward to welcoming them back to our campus on January 10, 2022! 

 

Vaccination Clinics

SMUSD has worked with our community partners Universidad Popular and Neighborhood Healthcare to provide free COVID-19 vaccination and flus clinics to our community. 

We are offering several upcoming vaccination clinics at our school sites, please click here for the full schedule and details. 

 

CDC Quarantine Updates

There has been a lot of attention around changes to quarantine guidelines from the CDC recently. While they have announced the shortening of quarantines for asymptomatic individuals, this update does not apply to K-12 settings. As it stands, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) K-12 schools guidance, and county public health orders have not been updated to include the new timeframes on isolation and quarantine. The San Diego County Office of Education is working with the County of San Diego to obtain clarification on whether these timeframes can be applied to school employees, and/or K-12 students. We will share an update as soon as we have received an answer from state and county officials.

 

Masking

Masking indoors will continue as a part of our safety protocols for both students and staff. More information regarding the proper types of masks can be found by visiting the CDC website by clicking here. A CDC Guide to Masks, including mask hygiene, can be found by clicking here

 

Thank you for all your collaboration and diligence to help us keep our schools open, keep our students in class, and keep our students and staff safe. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Dr. Andy Johnsen


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