More than 65,000 students and employees in Los Angeles will test positive for COVID-19 as school resumes

Thousands of students and staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District will miss the first day of the spring semester on Tuesday as the COVID-19 variant of Omicron continues to rise across the country. The district said that on Monday, 4 p.m., 65,630 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 in the week before school.

Omicron caused the largest increase in cases to date since the pandemic began in early 2020. The sharp rise in cases began in early December, and as of January 9, the nation has had a daily average of more than 674,000 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 95% of all COVID-19 Cases in the country. On January 9, Los Angeles County reported more than 43,500 new cases.

As we prepare to welcome our students and staff back to school tomorrow, we know that there is concern and have added extra layers of protection for our return to school. pic.twitter.com/RLr0iAvxvX

– Los Angeles United (@LASchools) January 11, 2022

The school district had updated its return to school guidelines on Friday in light of the surge. All students and staff, regardless of their vaccination status, had to get tested for COVID-19 and show a negative result between January 3 and January 10 in order to go to school.

Families were allowed to use external PCR or antigen tests, or to do tests at home so students could go to school.

The district announced that 424,230 students and employees completed a basic test before the start of the semester. On Monday afternoon, the student positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 16.6%, while the employee rate is at 14.9%. An estimated 574,570 students are enrolled in the district, including adult and preschool education, and more than 73,800 employees.

Those numbers are subject to change, however, as fewer than 83% of students and just over 90% of staff have completed their basic tests, the district said.

“Our positivity rate remains lower than the positivity rate of the entire county due to tightened security measures and the continued partnership of families and employees,” the district said in a statement. Los Angeles County has a positive testing rate of 22.64% based on the seven-day daily average, according to its health department.

All students and staff will have to undergo weekly tests in January regardless of their vaccination status, the school district said. Anyone who tests positive must be isolated for at least five days, and further isolation will depend on their symptoms. The district also requires that masks be worn at all times, both indoors and outdoors, and requires employees to wear surgical masks or higher.

Although it appears to be a “milder strain” of COVID-19, the former FDA commissioner was Dr. Scott Gottlieb Face the Nation told “Face the Nation” last week that Omicron is still a danger to children.

“The one group that could pose a problem are very young children, very young children, toddlers who have problems with upper respiratory infections,” said Gottlieb.

From January 1-7, an average of 839 children ages 17 and younger were hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the CDC, an increase of more than 33.5% from the previous week. Children in this demographic had the highest average increase in hospital admissions of almost any other age group except those over 70.

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