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| Tuesday, Aug 17, 2021
Back to School
Kian Hernandez, front, approaches the gate of Bridgeport Elementarty after waiting in line with other students getting ready to check in for the first day of the new school year Tuesday morning. August 10, 2021. Bobby Block / The Signal.


Saugus Union School District officials announced Monday they’ve learned about two self-reported cases of COVID-19 within their district, one each at two separate schools, and have since joined the William S. Hart Union High School District in sending at least one student home to quarantine since back-to school last week.

Both school districts said they learned about new self-reported cases over the weekend or early Monday morning and were following the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines.

In addition to the cases previously reported last week involving the Castaic and West Ranch high schools’ cheer teams, Hart district officials said they learned Monday about another self-reported case at Castaic High — but on the baseball team.

“A Castaic High baseball player tested positive over the weekend,” Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the Hart district, said on Monday. “The school was notified of the positive result today (Monday). Players who were considered close contacts on Friday were notified as soon as possible.”

Citing the need to protect the students’ and families’ privacy, Saugus Union officials declined to identify their schools where each case was reported. However, they did confirm that over the weekend and early Monday morning that one case at each school site had been identified.

“In each case we have followed our protocols, notified potential close contacts, and quarantined appropriately,” said Saugus Union Superintendent Colleen Hawkins. “In two situations, we have closed classrooms in an abundance of caution, but these are at two separate schools.”

Because LADPH guidelines stipulate that all exposed students and employees who are not fully vaccinated must self-quarantine if exposed through close contact, and the Saugus Union students exposed are not old enough yet to be eligible for the vaccination, Hawkins said the approximately 56 total students in the two classrooms would be asked to participate in an independent study from home for 10 days in order to allow for self-quarantining and symptom monitoring.

There are exceptions to the 10-day quarantine rule for unvaccinated students and teachers if there are asymptomatic. To view the guidelines, visit https://bit.ly/3iUxZtz.

“All situations have been where symptoms occurred outside of school, but individuals were on campus during the two days prior to the symptoms occurring,” said Hawkins. “In reviewing each situation’s contact tracing, it was determined that the initial case exposure occurred outside of the school campus.”

“Grade-level assignments and activities will be available to students to allow them to maintain learning while also ensuring their health and safety,” Hawkins said. “Because we must ensure appropriate health protocols are followed, SUSD takes the recommended cautions outlined by LADPH in sending students and staff home for testing and quarantine, possible classroom closures, and possible school closures, if recommended by LADPH.”

Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the Hart district, said because some of the contacts of the one case at Castaic High may be old enough to have been vaccinated, some will be required to self-quarantine while others may not.

Caldwell explained the LADPH defines a “close contact” as someone who in the last 24 hours was within six feet or less for 15 minutes or more of a person who tested positive for COVID-19. A person can have also had close contact if they were having unprotected contact (such as being coughed or sneezed on without a mask).

“A case is considered to be infectious from two days before their symptoms first appeared until the time they are no longer required to be isolated,” reads the DPH guidelines. “A person with a positive COVID-19 test but no symptoms is considered infectious from 2 days before their test was taken until 10 days after their test.”

“Asymptomatic persons who are fully vaccinated and who are a close contact to a confirmed case are recommended to test for COVID-19 as a result of their exposure but are not required to quarantine,” LADPH code reads. “However, they should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.”

Because of the vaccination status stipulations, Caldwell did not have an exact number of players who were considered close contacts Friday, which would require self-quarantine at home. He also said that contacts of contacts are not considered contagious.

Two of the current 716 students at Castaic High have reported a positive test in the last 14 days, according to the district’s website. A total of 15 cases have been reported at the school since Oct. 1, 2020. One staff member has reported a positive test in the last 14 days and three had been reported since Oct. 1, 2020.

Kuhlman said over the weekend that the West Ranch and Castaic cheer camp cases previously reported had been associated with the Indian Wells cheer camp, and that the students involved had “largely completed their quarantine period already.”

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