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County to provide free COVID-19 testing for all school employees

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 20:25:19-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Schools across San Diego County can reopen for in-person learning if they choose to on Tuesday, Sept. 1, as long as our COVID-19 case rate stays low enough through Sunday, Aug. 31.

The county will be providing free testing for all school employees, which is strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health.

“What we’re going to be doing is making testing available at over 20 County-coordinated sites,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. “In addition to that, we’re working with the San Diego Office of Education to open additional testing sites regionally that will be dedicated to school staff.”

County officials say testing for asymptomatic children is discouraged, but if parents feel the need to have their children tested, they should consult with their pediatrician.

Eight to ten school districts plan to reopen within the next two weeks to one month, according to Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County Office of Education Superintendent.

“If there’s 5% of positive cases identified in one school, then the entire school would need to shut down,” said Gothold.

More than 100 schools, mostly private, applied for waivers to reopen for in-person learning. The county stopped accepting the waivers this week since all schools can likely reopen soon.

“I feel confident that we’re ready to reopen,” said Holly McClurg, Superintended of the Del Mar Union School District. The district’s waiver was approved, McClurg said district officials have been working with experts, physicians, and parents for months to develop a safe reopening plan.

She said students and teachers at the district’s eight schools were split into two groups. Parents and teachers had the option of choosing virtual learning or in-person learning, said McClurg.

Virtual learning started this week, and in-person learning will begin on Sept. 8.

“We knew that we had prepared and done a very diligent job of making sure that all of the practices, protocols, PPE were in place. We’ve had expertise throughout this entire community that’s been instrumental in helping us make this decision,” she said. “I feel confident that we’re ready to reopen and can hardly wait to see everyone on Sept. 8.”

Some of the larger districts have decided to stick with strictly distance learning for now, including San Diego Unified and the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

A spokesperson for Sweetwater Union High School District tells ABC 10News that because COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on communities in the Southbay, schools will continue with distance learning at least through Oct. 2. Any changes will be announced on Sept. 21.

San Marcos Unified Started the school year remotely last week. Superintendent Dr. Carmen Garcia sent ABC 10News a statement saying in part, “Our Governing Board will be approving our return to in-person instruction at our upcoming September board meeting.”

Poway Unified will also start virtually on Sept. 2, but parents received a letter from the superintendent which read in part, “Even with this shorter, revised reopening timeline, we have no way of knowing for certain whether San Diego County will be able go 14 straight days staying off the monitoring list. As a large school district, we cannot wait until the day before the first day of school to find out. We already know the constantly changing timelines and decisions have made planning extremely difficult and frustrating for District leadership, our staff, and our families. As a result, to avoid further uncertainty for our staff and families planning for Fall, the Board of Education reaffirmed our Sept. 2 fully virtual start at its last meeting. However, if San Diego County passes the 14-day window and schools are cleared to begin reopening, the Board would like to reassess when and how to physically reopen schools, instead of waiting until December.”