In first week of COVID-19 testing, 171 LBUSD students test positive

In the first week of classes and testing for COVID-19, Long Beach Unified reported 171 cases among K-12 students—most of them at elementary schools where students are not old enough to be vaccinated, data from the district shows.

The number of kids testing positive represents a small fraction, less than 1%, of the district’s total student population of 68,000, though it’s unclear how many students in the district are vaccinated and therefore not subject to weekly testing. The vaccine is only available to those over 12.

Not all students have yet been tested, with the district expecting more complete results later this week.

LBUSD Superintendent Jill Baker said last week that officials expected that some students would test positive as thousands of kids returned to class.

“Even with all of the health and safety measures that have been put in place, we are expecting to manage COVID but not to not see any COVID in our school buildings,” Baker said during a live chat with the Post. “As much as we can, we want to help the community to know that we’re prepared for that, but it will not be that there is not a COVID exposure in a school.”

The district also reported 10 employees and one visitor or vendor tested positive for COVID-19.

The numbers show the cases reported were spread among roughly 55 different campuses.

The highest number of cases was 10 reported at Avalon School, a K-12 school with around 500 students. One vendor or visitor also tested positive at the Catalina Island campus.

Bobbie Smith Elementary School reported nine cases among students; Newcomb Academy in East Long Beach and Renaissance High School for the Arts in Downtown each reported seven cases; and five campuses reported six cases among students: Addams, Alvarado, Cubberley, Lindsey and Tincher elementary or K-8 schools, and Lindsey Middle School.

Employees in nutrition services, Head Start and the district’s teacher resource center tested positive, along with employees at the Cubberley Kids Club, Henry Elementary, and Lakewood, Millikan, McBride and Wilson high schools.

The tests are self-administered by students and are anterior nasal swabs—with the swabbing being done at the front part of the nose, not the deep nasal cavity tests that many adults are familiar with.

Different schools are handling the timing of their testing in different ways, but students are being tested during the school day. Many elementary schools are dedicating a day of the week for each grade level.

In addition to unvaccinated students, the district is also requiring weekly test results from unvaccinated employees—although those employees have to secure their own tests.

LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou said that the current system will be in place for at least two more weeks.

“We’ll reassess our next steps after the first three weeks,” said Eftychiou.

When there is a positive case at a school, the plan is for all parents and staff at the school to receive a letter stating that there’s a positive case on campus. For those receiving this first letter, no further action is required or expected; it’s simply a notification.

As the school site conducts contact tracing to determine which students or staff have been in “close contact” with anyone testing positive, those families or staff members will receive a letter with a notice of potential exposure. Close contact is defined as less than 6 feet of spacing with a COVID-19 positive case for more than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. Anyone determined to be a close contact will be notified of possible exposure within 24 hours.

For close contacts or positive results, a 10-day quarantine will be required without testing, or a seven day quarantine if a negative test is produced after five days.

Students who have to quarantine at home will do asynchronous learning, meaning working on their own without participating in a Zoom class, which aren’t happening this year. If an entire class and teacher have to quarantine, class may be conducted virtually in that instance.

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