Willard Elementary School possibly exposed to coronavirus, officials say

Willard Elementary School families and staff were notified by the Long Beach Health Department this week that they may have been exposed to the new coronavirus before local schools were shut down.

A letter posted on the school’s website says, “You or your child may have been exposed to COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus Disease 2019) at Willard Elementary School from March 12-13, 2020.”

March 13 was the last day Long Beach Unified schools were in session before shutting to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The letter, which was dated Tuesday, was sent to everyone at the school, according to health officials. They said someone at the campus tested positive for COVID-19 but declined to provide any more details about who or what part of campus they were on.

Lupita Lopez, a parent who has a preschooler and second-grader at Willard, said she got the letter Wednesday morning and quickly tried to find out more, to no avail.

“It’s frustrating not knowing more information,” Lopez said.

Her kids don’t have any symptoms, and, because of that, the family’s primary care doctor said they couldn’t be tested for the coronavirus.

“Of course I worry for my kids, but also my elderly parents live with us, and they are both health compromised,” Lopez said.

Any time someone tests positive for COVID-19 in Long Beach, local health officials began examining their recent contacts and notifying anyone they believe may have been at risk of contracting the virus.

In Long Beach, approximately 130 people are currently being monitored for possible exposure to COVID-19, and 10 people have tested positive.

Health officials have said they may release more information about where those people have traveled in the city, but that information would be released in a way that protects peoples’ privacy.

“We are not able to disclose specific information regarding those who test positive for COVID-19,” a city spokesperson told the Long Beach Post when asked about the case at Willard.

Regardless, authorities say everyone needs to assume they could be exposed to the disease and try to avoid it by practicing good hygiene and social distancing.

“This is the time for universal precautions,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, public health director for LA County, said at a Wednesday news conference where she announced the total number of cases countywide is nearing 200.

“Everyone who can should stay at home as much as possible,” Ferrer said.

Anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 should call—not visit—their primary care doctor.

Those symptoms include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. Symptoms for most people will be mild, but elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are the most at risk of complications or death from coronavirus.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.
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