After the first full round of COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated students and employees in Long Beach Unified, the district reported 252 cases among students, which is a 1.2% positivity rate, officials said.
Long Beach Unified School District spokesperson Chris Eftychiou said the district has conducted “at least” 21,600 tests since school began on Aug. 31, and as of Wednesday afternoon the district’s COVID-19 dashboard showed 265 total cases on campuses, with 252 students testing positive, along with 12 employees and one vendor or visitor. The dashboard is searchable by school site as well.
The district’s positivity rate is lower than the city’s as a whole after a spike in cases, which officials have said is a result of the delta variant of the virus, relaxed restrictions after June 15 and a lag in vaccinations among those over 12 who are eligible. The city’s positivity rate as of Wednesday was 4.7%.
The LBUSD’s policy is to test unvaccinated students weekly for at least the first three weeks of the school year, but because different grade levels are tested on different days, and testing is not being conducted on Fridays due to challenges getting results back over the weekend, results are likely to arrive in a spread out manner, rather than in weekly batches of results.
The district is requiring COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated students and teachers by policy, but not all unvaccinated students are being tested. Some parents have refused testing for their students, either explicitly or implicitly by not signing up for the online registration for their students.
In her live chat with the Post the week before school started, LBUSD superintendent Jill Baker acknowledged that reality and asked for the community’s support in not refusing testing.
“This is a moment for us to really realize the power of togetherness and I say that very emphatically, we need to be together on this,” she said. Acknowledging that school sites can grant exemptions due to medical or religious reasons, Baker said, “If they’re going to ask for an exemption to the process that’s outside of medical or religious reasons I would just implore the community to think about that this is a decision that is going to affect their own student’s classroom and could potentially affect the closure of the school.”
The discussion around testing is parallel to the issue of keeping kids home when they’re sick, something Baker and deputy superintendent Tiffany Brown spent a lot of time doing in the run-up to the school year as well. Because the school district is public, its options in turning away students who refuse testing or who are being sent to school while sick are limited and thus those safety measures depend to a large extent on community trust and buy-in.
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