College of the Canyons closed its Early Childhood Education Center (ECE) for three weeks effective Monday, Nov. 9 after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
The decision was made to protect the health and safety of college employees and children in the center. Two additional staff members who work in other ECE classrooms developed cold- and flu-like symptoms associated with COVID-19 over the past week. Those two employees are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
“We realize that this is a hardship for all of our families, but ensuring that everyone at our Center is safe is of the greatest importance to us,” said Dr. Diane Fiero, the college’s acting vice chancellor and assistant superintendent/vice president of human resources. “This temporary measure is the best option for protecting the health and safety of the students and families we serve.”
Because the three employees work in different locations at the Center, there does not appear to be any connection between the confirmed case and the two reports of symptoms. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) has not required the Center to close as there is currently no evidence of epidemiologically linked cases or an “outbreak,” as that term is defined, and instead left the decision to the college based on all relevant information.
The first staff member reported symptoms on Oct. 28, which was their last day at work. The second report of symptoms came on Nov. 3, and the employee’s last day at work was Nov. 2. The third report came on Nov. 6 from an employee who was last at work Nov. 4.
After each report, the staff members and children in the specific classrooms were directed to self-quarantine for 14 days. The three staff members all reported that they wore face coverings at all times when in classrooms with children. At this time, no other staff members or children in the three rooms are confirmed or presumed positive for COVID-19.
“Based on the information available at this point, we believe the swift and decisive action of isolating the affected sick individuals and self-quarantining the classrooms has mitigated against any potential spread of COVID-19,” Fiero said. “The Center has been in continuous contact with LADPH from the time of its opening a few months ago, and we are continuing to rely on the expert guidance of LADPH in addressing this situation.”
During the closure, the Center will undergo a detailed disinfection of all facilities systems, furniture and equipment. This is in addition to the twice-daily disinfection that has been in place since it reopened, utilizing supplies and procedures that exceed current CDC guidelines.
At this time, the Center is scheduled to return to full service on Nov. 30 and continue normal operations for the remainder of the fall semester, through Dec. 11.