Dear IUSD Community:
The following is an update to our December 30, 2021 communication and includes information regarding:
- COVID-19 testing resources
- Reduced isolation period for asymptomatic COVID positive students
- Transition in Contact Tracing Practices
- Up-to-date vaccine status
- School safety and mitigation strategies for preventing and limiting the spread of COVID-19
- What families can do to help keep our schools safe and healthy
Free COVID-19 Testing Resources
- State Test Kits: Free at-home rapid antigen test kits provided by the state for students have started to arrive in Orange County. At this time, Orange County has only received 40 percent of the test kits promised by the state. The Orange County Department of Education anticipates that the county will receive the remaining test kits in the coming weeks.
o Based on the limited number of test kits being provided at this time to IUSD and the other OC districts, IUSD will prioritize the state's at-home rapid antigen test kits for students who have tested positive and would like to test to end their isolation period on day five and return to school on day 6. This will help us get students back in school safely.
o Test kits will be available at each school. Schools will provide additional information to their communities.
- IUSD Test Kits: The free PCR test kits (saliva or nasal) that IUSD has provided, beginning last September, remain available at all IUSD school sites for students and staff. However, due to high demand for testing, some school sites may not always have these test kits available. IUSD is working with our vendor to provide additional kits to our schools as soon as possible, as part of our ongoing access to testing for students and staff.
- Community Testing Resources: Click here for more information about additional free testing options for students and families through county and state resources.
Reduced Isolation Period for Asymptomatic COVID Positive Students
As communicated last week, the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Care Agency issued new guidelines regarding isolation and quarantine periods for those who test positive for COVID-19 or who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- The isolation period has been reduced from 10 to 5 days for those who test positive for COVID-19, if the individual is asymptomatic and continues to mask at all times for an additional five days, and tests negative on or after day five with an FDA approved/authorized test. Antigen testing is the preferred test to be used for this repeat testing.
- More information about these new guidelines can be found by clicking here.
Transition in Contact Tracing Practices
Schools across the nation are experiencing a surge in positive case notifications due to the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and the increased testing of students. This has necessitated a shift in contact tracing practices for IUSD and other OC school districts. The transition in practice is outlined below.
- Consistent Mask Wearing at School: When there is consistent mask wearing, instead of a separate communication for close contacts, all families will be notified when there is a positive case in their student’s classroom and they will be asked to monitor their student for COVID-19 symptoms and to take the following steps as outlined in the District's updated notification letter.
- Inconsistent Mask Wearing at School: When consistent mask wearing is not in effect, such as in some athletic or Special Education settings, school staff will engage in contact tracing and provide a close contact notification to those families with instructions.
By making this transition, it will help our schools maintain timely communications, while supporting staff as they effectively manage positive case notifications.
Please note that due to effective mitigation strategies implemented by schools, transmissions on campuses remain low. As a result, the state has differentiated close contact exposures that occur on campus versus off campus. To read more about what you need to do when a student is a close contact on or off campus, click here and scroll to page 2 for more information.
As partners in the safety of our students and staff, parent support is critically important under these challenging conditions. Symptomatic or sick students must be kept home and follow Orange County Health Care Agency Guidelines.
Up-to-Date Vaccine Status
Please note that the OCHCA considers individuals to be “up-to-date” with their vaccination status if they have completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccine and have either received a booster shot or are not yet recommended to receive a booster dose according to current guidance.
For more information, click here.
School Safety and Mitigation Strategies
As anticipated by national, state and local health experts, COVID-19 cases, due to the Omicron variant, have increased in our community and as a result we are starting to see more cases on our campuses. We expect this to continue in the coming weeks until the surge peaks. Through contract tracing efforts and/or through parent reporting, it appears the majority of cases continue to be from sources outside of school. However, we all need to continue to do our part in helping to keep our schools safe and students and staff healthy.
Despite the recent surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide, health officials and agencies continue to state that schools are safer than other community settings due to layered mitigation strategies.
IUSD schools continue to implement health and safety guidelines to help prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 on our campuses. Mitigation strategies include:
- Universal Masking: Students, staff and visitors are required to wear face coverings while indoors on school campuses.
- Free Testing: Free COVID-19 testing is available through a variety of resources as communicated above or by clicking here.
- Ventilation: School HVAC systems have been recalibrated to pull in more fresh air and equipped with upgraded MERV-13 filters.
- Air Purification Units: Standalone HEPA air purification units are in learning and office spaces, along with common areas and clean the air every 30 minutes.
- Cleaning and Disinfecting: Custodial staff continue to implement COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting procedures and are following related protocols to deep clean, sanitize and disinfect sites.
For more information and to review IUSD’s Safety Plan, visit iusd.org/covid19.
Let’s Do Our Part to Help Keep Schools Healthy and Safe
We know by working together we can limit the spread of COVID-19, and it is going to take a combined effort to continue to keep our schools safe. Here’s how you can support our mission to keep students in school:
- Understand that as more students are tested, it is fully expected that case numbers will increase.
- Continue daily home screenings.
- Keep students home if they are sick, have COVID-19 symptoms, or if they or a member of their household has tested positive or are awaiting COVID-19 test results.
- Keep students home, if they are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, and follow the parent reporting instructions.
Additional resources for COVID-19 information include:
- California Department of Public Health COVID-19 Resource Page
- Orange County Health Care Agency COVID-19 Resource Page
- IUSD’s COVID-19 Resource Page
- IUSD’s Daily Home Screening Guide
We’re in this Together
We understand this is a time of uncertainty and concern for some of our families. As we have shared since the onset of the pandemic, we will continue to work together to help keep our students, staff, families and campuses safe.
If current conditions change, we will respond and adapt quickly to help keep our community informed of any updates. For more information about COVID-19, including state and local resources, testing, vaccinations and updates, visit our COVID-19 resource page at iusd.org/covid19.
We appreciate your support, partnership and understanding.