Coronavirus infections increased during the LAUSD summer school

Coronavirus infections found at Los Angeles Unified Schools increased steadily over the five weeks of the summer school, but appear to have affected a small proportion of students and staff, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The increase in infections detected through regular coronavirus screenings corresponded with the increase in the delta variant. The summer program started with a few cases discovered in approximately 44,000 students and staff who attended classes in person and were tested weekly. In the country’s second largest school district, approximately 465,000 K-12 students are enrolled during the regular academic year.

Summer school classes began on June 21st or 22nd – depending on the grade level – and ended on July 23rd. In the first week, the district recorded 20 infections in high school students. In the last week, the district recorded 59 infections with a total of 174 student cases in the five weeks. There were two employees in the first week and 16 in the last, with a total of 53 cases in the five weeks.

The vast majority of these cases appeared to have been contracted off campus. But there were also cases of a possible transmission in direct connection with participation in the summer school – a total of 12 in the five weeks. All but one of these cases involved students.

Coronavirus infections in the summer school *

Week of 06/21

Week of 06/28



Week of 7/12

Week of 07/19


Student cases







Personnel cases














School bound







* Data from LA Unified

For comparison, the district reported two cases of apparent transmission during the regular school year after the campus reopened in April. During this time, students and adults were back on campus for seven to nine weeks, depending on the grade. Both cases were non-vaccinated adults. The district did not announce the vaccination status of the 12 summer cases.

Officials saw no cause for concern about the summer school infections. When schools reopen on August 16, campuses will be as safe as possible, and a classroom will remain the best place for the vast majority of students for the upcoming school year.

“This is where our mitigation measures come in,” said Dr. School district medical director Smita Malhotra during a security tour on Euclid Avenue Elementary in Boyle Heights last week. “Yes, the Delta variant is transferable. This is just general knowledge. But our mitigation measures – like our improved ventilation systems, our required masking, our robust testing program – will help keep our schools as safe as possible. “

Looking at the data differently shows that about 1 in 1,000 tests started early in summer school were found to be infected. By the last week of summer school, that rate had risen to 6 in 1,000 tests.

Dr. Smita Malhotra (center) and Dr. Rosina Franco (right) listens to Josefina Flores, principal of the elementary school on Euclid Avenue, at a meet and greet in LA Unified.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The infection rate in the district was significantly lower than in the entire district. In that corresponding week in late July, the infection rate across the county was around 5%, or around 50 tests per 1,000. The lower rate in schools does not necessarily mean that the likelihood of infectious people living on campus is less than that of the entire community. The numbers could be lower as everyone was tested on campus, while testing elsewhere may have been heavily weighted with people taking tests for exposure to the virus or symptoms.

The data published by the district show gaps. About 14,000 students visited campus to participate only in non-class activities, programs that offered arts and crafts, sports, and homework help. The district also tested these students but did not provide any data on their results. These programs usually started a week before summer school and lasted a week longer.

The district has also not disclosed the size of the adult testing pool at the summer school, and has not released the names of the locations where the infections were found. But officials said most were in the San Fernando Valley.

LA Unified provided data to the Times in response to a request for public records and follow-up communications. The data has not been made public. The district had previously undertaken to publish such data on a school-by-school basis as well as across the district. Officials said they would provide extensive data to parents and the community as soon as the regular school year begins.

The situation on site will inevitably be different at the beginning of the new school year. If current trends continue, enrollment on campus will be close to normal. So far, around 99% of students are expected to return in person, with the rest opting for online learning.

The families have until Friday to choose an online option for the start of the school year.

A student on playground equipment

First grader Daniel Cano plays on playground equipment during a meet and greet in LA Unified at Euclid Avenue Elementary School.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Other factors on campus will also be different than in the spring, when only about one in four students attended classroom teaching and the students were only on campus part-time. In the spring, LA Unified enforced a two-meter gap between desks and kept students in small, unchanging groups to limit mixing and the potential spread of the virus. In the fall, schools will practice as much distancing “as possible” while allowing full enrollment and a full day of school five days a week.

The security protocols at LA Unified will be some of the strictest. For example, students are required to wear masks outdoors. State and county health guidelines only require masks to be worn indoors.

In her review of safety parameters, Malhotra also emphasized a strategy that depends on the personal decisions of families and employees: get vaccinated when you are entitled, she advised.

“The biggest message I can give about the Delta variant is to get vaccinated,” said Malhotra, “because that’s still your greatest protection.”

At least one private school has gone further with security protocols. At Harvard-Westlake School in Beverly Crest, all on-campus staff and eligible students must be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our principle is that everyone who comes to campus during the school day should be fully vaccinated,” said spokesman Ari Engelberg. Exceptions are considered on an individual basis for a documented medical condition or strong religious belief.

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