Los Alamitos High School temporarily closing campus to fight COVID spike

In a letter to the 8,000 students and employees of the Los Alamitos Unified School District, superintendent Andrew Pulver announced today that Los Alamitos High School will close its campus for almost a month beginning tomorrow.

The closure will last until Jan. 14 and is a result of spiking COVID-19 cases, although Pulver said the decision was voluntary.

“While the number of COVID-19 cases among students and staff at LAHS is still well below the 5% threshold set by the (California Department of Public Health) for closing a campus to in-person instruction, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of people who must enter quarantine because of close contact with affected individuals,” Pulver said in the letter.

The district’s elementary and middle schools will remain open on the current online/in-person hybrid schedule.

There are currently 28 Los Alamitos High students and nine staffers isolating after positive coronavirus tests. That’s 1.267% of the total school population of 2,921. Cases are spiking across the Los Alamitos district as a whole, with 73 total people currently positive for COVID-19, the highest number since campuses reopened.

The district has been open for hybrid, in-person learning for all grades since early in October. Something that’s been brought up by groups of frustrated East Long Beach parents who see public schools just a few miles to the east open for in-person learning while the Long Beach Unified School District remains in virtual-only mode.

That discrepancy was caused by the fact that Los Alamitos is in Orange County, where the coronavirus outbreak has not been as bad as Los Angeles County. Orange County dropped out of the most restrictive tier of COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, allowing Los Alamitos and many other districts to open all grades to in-person learning. Because they were already open, the schools have been allowed to keep operating even under the state’s more restrictive stay-at-home orders that recently took effect.

LA County and Long Beach health officials have said they’ll allow local schools to offer in-person learning for kindergarten through second grade, but the LBUSD has not pursued that option, instead staying online only until at least March 1.

While the LBUSD and other LA County schools are still working toward reopening on a hybrid bases with a reduced number of students on campus for half days, Los Alamitos had been hoping to shift from the hybrid model to a full reopening of what it calls the “traditional format” for elementary schools, a shift that’s now been delayed.

“We have moved a possible return to a traditional format at the elementary level from the previous target of February 1 to a point later in the Spring,” said Pulver. “We have not set a new target date, yet we remain hopeful and will assess conditions as we get closer to Spring Break.”

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