LAUSD Is 1st School District in US to Test All Students, Families, and Staff for Coronavirus

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By KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO

LAUSD says it will be the first school district in the nation to test all students and staff for coronavirus infection.

LAUSD announced today that it has successfully completed the trial phase of its COVID-19 testing and contact-tracing program. LAUSD is now testing all staff members currently working at school sites and their children, who will be in a childcare program at schools. 

“Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary actions, and while school-based testing and contact-tracing efforts are unprecedented, they are necessary and appropriate,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “This will provide a public health benefit to the school community, as well as the greater Los Angeles area.” 

Beutner said “With close to 700,000 students and 75,000 staff members at schools, an operation of this scale has implications beyond schools. We will be testing both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals and the results will be of value to researchers and policy makers as they develop plans to combat the virus and provide additional support to schools."

“This program will allow testing for students, their families and school staff,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said in a press release. “It is the first step in allowing a safe and secure return to school. With state-of-the-art health practices, technology and our amazing partners, Los Angeles Unified is a national leader in testing and contact tracing for our school community.” 

"Following the initial, baseline testing of all staff and students there will be periodic testing based on advice from epidemiologists at Stanford, UCLA and The Johns Hopkins University. Their models will take into account the results of prior testing, learnings from the latest research and information about the health impacts of COVID-19 in the communities Los Angeles Unified serves. Testing will also be provided for household members of students or staff who test positive for the virus or those who show symptoms," LAUSD said in a press release.

COVID-19 testing for students, staff and family members is part of LAUSD’s three-part return-to-school plan, which includes health practices at schools and the ability to notify and isolate any members of the school community who may have come in contact with the virus. For example, classrooms and facilities already are being electrostatically cleaned top to bottom; air-filtration systems have been upgraded with the equivalent of N-95 membranes; PPE is provided to all at a campus, and classrooms and facilities have been reconfigured to keep everyone at a school a safer distance apart.

"When students do return to schools, they will be kept in small cohorts to reduce the risk of spreading the virus," the press release said.

Earlier this month, the county’s health officer says it will be November at the earliest before K-12 students return to campuses. But they’re going to start right away with bringing back some special needs kids and kids learning English to help those who are in dire need of in-person instruction. LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn has said they can study the data to see where they go from there. She thinks there could be as many as 100,000 special needs kids back in classrooms during this pilot program. 

A new survey finds that across the country, school districts with a majority of white students are more than three times as likely to reopen classroom instruction as districts with a majority of students of color.

Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School Board voted unanimously to approve the distance learning labor deal made between Superintendent Austin Beutner and United Teachers Los Angeles.

News release: Los Angeles Unified Begins COVID-19 Testing Program - https://t.co/GbP0E94zte

— L.A. Unified (@LASchools) September 14, 2020

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