Daria Milovanova staff writer
Karely Molina Martinez staff writer
Though COVID cases are on the decline in LA county, BHUSD administration remains strict on contact tracing any possible cases of COVID on and off district campuses.
According to the California state COVID dashboard, the rate of positive COVID cases over the first week of May is 1.2 percent, a significantly low number compared to previous months. BHUSD Director of Public Relations Rebecca Starkins asserted that the newly calculated low COVID case rate serves as a good indicator of the safety of the school reopening.
“The timing of the gradual reopening of our schools has aligned perfectly with the extremely low transmission rates in LA County, the latest adjusted case rate was announced at 2.7 Tuesday 4/20. We did not see any spike in cases in LA County after spring break which was very encouraging,” Starkins said.
As more and more students are returning to on-campus instruction, the administration is taking the necessary precautions to keep track of cases.
“[With] the ParentSquare mechanism…Obviously, what people are being asked to do is sign truthfully. If they knowingly lie or if they sign saying they feel fine, then they test positive for COVID later, those are two different things, we take those two differently,” Assistant Principal Drew Stewart said. “There is never a ‘one-size-fits-all’ for this thing. But we will oftentimes ask the student…questions again and determine if it is clear that somebody knowingly, intentionally lied and either had the virus or was engaging in risky behaviors then they would be sent home.”
BHUSD has been providing the necessary means of COVID prevention, detection and mitigation throughout the reopening process. So far, no cases of virus transmission have been detected on campus.
“Our investment, as overseen by the Board of Education, in PPE, thermal scanners, vaccination offering, daily testing opportunities for staff and symptomatic or close contact students and COVID-19 protocols as specified in our Ready Together plan had paid off,” Starkins said. “Any COVID-19 cases throughout the District have zero epidemiological link at our schools which means there is currently zero transmission of COVID-19 at our school sites. This is a fantastic credit to our COVID-19 Compliance Team led by Dr. Bregy and the mitigation strategies the team has successfully implemented at each school.”
In case a series of transmitted cases was detected, there are protocols in place designed to manage the threat. The outbreak mitigation plan includes contact tracing methods like COVID testing and a 10 day quarantine.
“Should an outbreak occur we have a phenomenal team who implements our Exposure Management Plan. Mr. Wenker continues to work hand in hand with the Department of Health to complete contract tracing ensuring that all close contacts of any known cases are able to test and then quarantine for 10 days. We are not out of the woods completely, but we certainly see a light at the end of this tunnel,” Starkins said.
The contact tracing procedure has shown to be effective in a recent case of COVID on the high school campus. An unnamed senior who contracted the disease claims the events that followed were outside of the student’s control.
“I tested negative the day after [the first day of] school, so that was good. Then that weekend I go get tested again. I tested positive. So then I contacted the administration, told them what’s going on. Mr. Mead called me. We went through my day, I described who I was around, who I was with. He then didn’t let those kids come to school, just to be safe. Then the y[were] contacted, so they stayed home for two weeks, too. I stayed home for two weeks. Everyone tested negative. I was the only one positive and that was basically it,” the unnamed senior said.
Other than the students having to stay home in quarantine for 14 days, none of them dealt with more serious consequences. If a case were to happen where a student knowingly provides misleading information on their ParentSquare and conceals having COVID, the ramifications may be significantly worse.
“In the court of law, if somebody has a disease that they knowingly pass to somebody else intentionally, that could be considered assault,” Stewart said. “If somebody had COVID and came to campus intentionally and lied about it, they could face potentially serious repercussions. But again, this is all new to us, so we are taking most things right now on a case by case basis. We luckily haven’t dealt with that, but I imagine that the repercussions could be potentially pretty serious.”