LBUSD will conduct COVID-19 tests for unvaccinated students

Long Beach Unified leaders announced Wednesday night that the district will conduct “surveillance” COVID-19 testing on unvaccinated students, most of whom return to the classroom on Aug. 31.

Superintendent Jill Baker said the decision was made in consultation with the Long Beach Health Department in light of the continued uptick in COVID cases in Long Beach.

“It’s been recommended that until we see COVID declining we use this extra layer of prevention,” Baker said, adding that testing will be funded with the relief funds from the state and federal government.

Baker said in an interview after Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting that the testing will be weekly at the start of the school year, and its frequency will be re-evaluated based on COVID numbers in the community. She said the tests will be the anterior nasal swabs that the district used to test students who returned to campus in the spring—swabbing just the front of the nasal cavity.

Baker also said the decision had been made very recently and that more information would be coming in her weekly community message on Monday.

Los Angeles Unified is taking similar measures, requiring students and staff and to undergo testing at the start of classes this week. In the first round of tests over the past two weeks, more than 3,600 positive tests came back. The positivity rate was 0.8% of all students and staff.

The LBUSD decision comes as the case rate of COVID-19 has risen to 35.9 per 100,000 residents, far above a rate that hovered just above 1 in mid-June.

Roughly 75% of the adult population is now vaccinated against the virus in Long Beach, but children under 12 are not eligible to receive it.

Wednesday’s announcement came as several groups protested outside the district headquarters, some against vaccine requirements, some against masking requirements that were put into place, and others clamoring for more independent study options because they want to keep kids home.

City News News Service contributed to this report. 

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