SMMUSD Covid-19 logs kick off with 12 cases and 363 people in quarantine

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has launched an online dashboard for Covid-19 cases that shows promising early results from its efforts to limit on-campus transmission.

On September 8, the district had twelve positive cases in its approximately 10,600 students and 1,600 employees, all of which require weekly testing. A total of 41 people are currently in isolation due to a positive test result or COVID-like symptoms, while 363 people are being quarantined due to exposure to someone with a positive test result.

Exposed students and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to be quarantined as long as they remain asymptomatic.

Of the 6,656 district students aged 12 to 18 who are eligible for vaccination, 5,224 received at least one dose. This equates to a vaccination rate of 78.5 percent for eligible students, which is slightly lower than the 83.1 percent rate for the entire Santa Monica population and significantly higher than the 61.8 percent rate for Malibu.

A vaccination order applies to all SMMUSD employees, with exceptions for religious or medical reasons.

According to public health guidelines, SMMUSD defines exposure as being within the same class as someone with Covid-19, within 6 feet of someone with Covid-19 for 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, or as direct contact with someone’s body fluids with Covid-19.

As a result of this definition, the number of students in quarantine is much higher in secondary schools, where class groups of students frequently switch between subjects. For example, while both Franklin Elementary School and Santa Monica High School currently have two positive test results, only 16 students are in quarantine in Franklin, compared to 178 in Samohi.

Although the quarantine requirements may seem arduous, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer claims they are an essential tool in controlling the spread of Covid-19 on campus.

“That’s the power of quarantine: it stops transmission chains before they can take off,” Ferrer said in a media briefing on September 9th. “And while it is certainly bothersome and a major inconvenience for families, the alternative is widespread infection transmission galloping through schools, at rates more likely to result in large numbers of exposures and prolonged outbreaks.”

Across the county, school districts have been quite successful in limiting on-campus transmission. According to Ferrer, about 0.5 percent of the 1.5 million students in the county and 0.7 percent of the 175,000 employees have been infected since the schools reopened.

“This does not mean that the infections happened in schools, many of these infections happened before the students came to school, and some of these infections are also due to high transmission rates and exposures outside of school and in your home,” Ferrer said .

The Department of Health tracks school breakouts, which are defined as three or more cases where the likely cause of the transmission was school activity. In the last two weeks of school, DPH recorded a total of 12 outbreaks in all K-12 adolescents.

“While the small number of confirmed outbreaks as you can see is very small given that we have opened over 3,000 school buildings, and this is a positive sign that containment efforts can be very effective at preventing transmission in the school To reduce, we do expect an upward trend in outbreaks as more schools are open, ”Ferrer said.

At the district level, the cases continue to slowly but surely decrease, also in all school age groups.

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