As students and staff of the 600,000-strong Los Angeles Unified School District returned to in-person learning this week, routine testing at schools across many districts identified thousands of Covid-19 infections.
For the week of January 3 through January 9, 547,466 tests were administered across school districts in the county, with most testing occurring for LAUSD students and staff. Last week, 80,424 positive cases were identified, including 68,560 cases among LAUSD staff and students, resulting in a test positivity rate of 14.6%. While that’s a high number, it’s less than the 20% positivity rate in L.A. County-at-large.
A total of three outbreaks among youth sports teams were also identified last week, with an additional 26 school-related outbreaks still being monitored. As a result, the LAUSD paused all school sports competitions this week as administrators monitored conditions.
“As schools reopen countywide, we are seeing a high number of students and staff testing positive reflecting the explosive rate of community spread,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “Testing those who are close contacts of infected students or school staff can quickly identify others who may now be infected, and limit continued spread; and, making it easy for those eligible to get their booster doses helps ensure that immune systems are best primed to repel the virus.”
The district required all students and staff to be tested for Covid before returning to in-person activities, distributing thousands of take-home test kits to students since Friday.
Some students had problems with the Daily Pass system that was supposed to allow them access their test results and to get clearance. The system crashed, creating chaos and long lines.
Dozens of U.C. and Cal State campuses have decided to retreat to distance learning amid the current Omicron surge. At least a half-dozen Northern California districts have returned to remote education, as well.
“L.A. Unified maintains the highest Covid-19 safety standards of any public school district in the nation, including weekly testing of all staff and students, universal masking indoors and outdoors, comprehensive sanitizing efforts, frequent hand-washing, upgraded air filtration systems, physical distancing as much as possible and collaboration with health partners,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said Tuesday.
City News Service contributed to this report.