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The Vast Majority Of LAUSD Students Tested Negative For COVID-19

A young girl with a ponytail wears a white face mask and stands next to a table holding ziploc bags of food
A young girl wears a face mask picks up at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia on March 16, 2020.
(Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
AFP via Getty Images)
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Most LAUSD Students Took COVID-19 Tests Before Going Back To School. Very Few Tested Positive

The vast majority of Los Angeles Unified School District students and employees tested negative for COVID-19 in the two weeks leading up to the start of a new school year, LAUSD said late Monday.

Between Aug. 2 and Aug. 15, the district’s back-to-school COVID-19 tests identified only a handful of positive cases:

  • 3,255 among students — out of more than 365,000 students who took the screenings
  • 399 cases among staff.

Overall, 0.8% of LAUSD’s tests came back positive. During the same timeframe, 4% of all tests across L.A. County came back positive.

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‘Living Safely With’ The Virus

Today represents a milestone, where we’re no longer reacting to the virus, we are actually living with it, and living safely with it, so that learning can continue.
— LAUSD interim superintendent Megan Reilly

The district required all students and staff to take a COVID-19 test sometime in the first two weeks of August ahead of Monday’s reopening of campuses for full-time, in-person instruction. LAUSD plans to continue screening all staff and students for the virus — whether they’re vaccinated or not — throughout the year.

LAUSD conducted these “baseline” tests during a two-week period when daily case rates across the region had reached levels not seen since February 2021. District officials said the tests were one of many precautions LAUSD is taking to ensure students can remain on-campus.

“Today represents a milestone,” LAUSD interim superintendent Megan Reilly said during a Monday news conference, “where we’re no longer reacting to the virus, we are actually living with it, and living safely with it, so that learning can continue.”

“The baseline testing,” Reilly added, “is so that we can ensure that no child or staff comes on this campus with some sort of positive test for COVID. All of this is to ensure the safety in our schools.”

As a side note, LAUSD testing now appears to account for a sizable fraction of all COVID-19 tests administered in L.A. County. During LAUSD’s two weeks of back-to-school testing, there were 1.2 million test results recorded countywide. In the two weeks before LAUSD started its screenings, the county recorded only 773,000 tests.

What Happens When Students Test Positive?

Students who don’t have a negative COVID-19 test on file will not be allowed to enter campus, though Reilly said Tuesday that the district had rapid-result tests available so that “no child should be turned away.”

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Overall, 81% of LAUSD students participated in the baseline testing before school started — though students were also allowed to submit results from reputable outside testing sites, and it’s not clear whether the data reflect those negative results, or only data from LAUSD-run testing sites.

Students who test positive must stay home and isolate for at least 10 days and until their fever subsides, according to L.A. County Department of Public Health guidelines.

What happens to the classmates of someone who tests positive? The responses are likely to vary case by case, but in general, anyone who has come into close contact with someone who’s tested positive will have to quarantine, also.

“Close contact” means spending 15 minutes within six feet of the positive case; officials from the county’s public health department and LAUSD would have to determine who fits that description.

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).

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