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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s School Technical Assistance teams are reaching out to schools proactively to assess COVID-19 preventive readiness and advise on options for improvement.
During recent visits, STAT educators found that schools with significant safety enhancements have broad support within the school community for promoting and implementing masking guidance. They also have symptom pre-screening tools that allow for early detection of sick students, consistent COVID-19 screening testing programs and signage campus-wide to remind staff and students about safety, masking, distancing and sanitation.
Meanwhile, areas for improvement at many schools included preventing crowded situations, creating safety compliance teams, identifying space to use as isolation rooms and implementing mealtime-specific prevention strategies.
Additionally, teams noted the potential for improved communication with parents and faculty about testing and vaccination opportunities and case identification and contact tracing requirements. Many schools would also benefit from more signage, updated reopening protocols and sharing those protocols with the entire school community, and increased disinfection in shared spaces.
The teams plan to add additional support to schools to assist with contact tracing and appropriate quarantining of students and staff. They will send county staff to schools that identify large numbers of exposed students to help manage quarantining of students and staff, recognizing how stressful and disruptive quarantining is to a stable learning environment and to parents and caregivers.
In school settings countywide over the week of Aug. 16 through 22, 3,186 new cases were reported, many from the Los Angeles Unified School District, where everyone is tested weekly. The overwhelming majority of school sites with cases reported only one case. However, 15 LAUSD and 48 other school sites reported 2 cases, and 84 LAUSD and 39 other school sites reported 3 or more cases.
Of the 14 school outbreaks that occurred in August, half were associated with school sports.
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