As we prepare to welcome our students and employees back to school tomorrow, we know there is apprehension and we’ve added extra layers of protection for the return to school. pic.twitter.com/RLr0iAvxvX
Omicron has created the largest spike in cases yet since the pandemic began at the beginning of 2020. The stark increase in cases began at the beginning of December, and as of January 9, the nation has a daily average of more than 674,000 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making up more than 95% of all COVID-19 cases in the country. On January 9, Los Angeles County reported more than 43,500 new cases.
— Los Angeles Unified (@LASchools) January 11, 2022
The school district had updated its guidelines for the return to school on Friday in light of the surge. All students and employees had to get tested for COVID-19, regardless of their vaccination status, between January 3 and January 10, and have to prove a negative result to go to school.
The district said that 424,230 students and employees took a baseline test prior to the start of the semester. As of Monday afternoon, the student positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is at 16.6% while the employee rate stands at 14.9%. There are an estimated 574,570 students enrolled in the district, including adult and pre-kindergarten education, and more than 73,800 employees.
Families were allowed to use external PCR or antigen tests, or conduct at-home tests for students to be allowed at school.
Those numbers, however, are subject to change, as less than 83% of students and just over 90% of staff members have completed their baseline tests, the district said.
“Our positivity rate remains lower than the overall county positivity rate as a result of heightened safety measures and the continued partnership of families and employees,” the district said in a statement. Los Angeles County, according to its health department, has a testing positivity rate of 22.64% based on the seven-day daily average.
All students and staff will have to submit to weekly testing throughout January, regardless of their vaccination status, the school district said. Anyone who tests positive has to isolate for at least five days, and further isolation will depend on their symptoms. The district is also requiring that masks be worn at all times, both indoors and outdoors, and mandating that employees wear surgical grade masks or higher. Despite appearing to be a “milder strain” of COVID-19, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told “Face the Nation” last week that Omicron still poses a danger to children.
“The one group that may be a problem is very young kids, very young children, toddlers who have trouble with upper airway infections,” Gottlieb said. From January 1 to January 7, there was an average of 839 children aged 17 and younger hospitalized for COVID-19, according to the CDC, a more than 33.5% increase from the week prior. Children in that demographic had the highest average increase in hospitalizations out of almost any other age demographic, aside from those 70 and older.
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Li Cohen is a social media producer and trending reporter for CBS News, focusing on social justice issues.
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