Dear IUSD Families,
We hope you are continuing to enjoy the winter break. As we prepare for school to resume on Monday, January 3, please take a moment to review the following important health and safety information and reminders.
Local Health Conditions
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Orange County Health Care Agency continue to state that schools are not the source of COVID-19 surges due to effective, multi-layered mitigation strategies. While our state and nation are experiencing expected COVID-19 surges due to the winter season and holiday gatherings, the Orange County Health Care Agency continues to remind county school districts that local health conditions are important to consider when discussing COVID-19 in schools.
Orange County has higher vaccination rates with lower transmission and hospitalization rates than Los Angeles County or many other regions in the state or nation. In Irvine, the evidence is even more encouraging:
- More than 95 percent of Irvine senior citizens are vaccinated.
- More than 80 percent of Irvine residents ages 12 and older are vaccinated.
- A vast majority of school age children experience mild symptoms and rarely result in hospitalization.
Free COVID-19 Test Kits
In an effort to further reduce COVID-19 transmission on school campuses, particularly as the Omicron variant surges, the CDPH will be distributing at-home COVID-19 tests to California schools. In Orange County, school districts will receive the test kits through the Orange County Health Care Agency and the Orange County Department of Education. According to county officials, weather and other challenges make it unlikely that the at-home test kits, which have not yet arrived in Orange County, will be distributed to school districts before Monday. Once the tests arrive in our county and are provided to IUSD, we will immediately make them available to our families. Please continue to check for updates from IUSD and from your schools.
In the meantime, click here for more information about additional testing options for students and families.
As a reminder, free COVID-19 test kits (saliva or nasal) are available at all IUSD school sites for students and staff. Please note that while the test kits available through IUSD schools are administered at home, they are processed in a lab, unlike the state’s forthcoming at-home test kits. Therefore the process and timing is different. Samples collected from test kits available at IUSD schools are picked up daily by 12 p.m. during normal school hours (Monday-Friday), excluding holidays. Samples turned in after 12 p.m. will be processed on the following business day (samples turned in on Friday will be processed the following Monday). Generally, results will be emailed within 24 hours of collection. Please continue to take advantage of these test kits when needed.
No Statewide COVID-19 Testing Mandate for Students
CDPH health officials have stressed that there is no statewide testing mandate in place for students prior to the return to school on Monday. However, they encourage families to use at-home tests as an added precaution. More information can be found on the CDPH website.
Update Regarding New CDC Quarantine Guidelines and State Implementation
On December 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines regarding quarantine periods for those who test positive for COVID-19 or who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. The quarantine period has been reduced from 10 to five 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. More information about these new guidelines can be found by clicking here.
Although the Orange County Health Care Agency anticipates alignment with these new CDC guidelines, the CDPH has not officially changed the guidelines for K-12 schools. According to county officials, it is anticipated that the CDPH will provide guidance for California schools before the return to school on January 3. IUSD will provide updates to our community as we have them.
In the meantime, the state’s 10-day quarantine period for those who test positive for COVID-19 or are a confirmed close contact, remains in effect until further notice.
Help Keep Our Schools Healthy and Safe
It is up to each of us to help keep our schools healthy and safe. As we have learned throughout this pandemic, the vast majority of students benefit most from being in school with their teachers and peers. From experience, we know that if we all work together schools can and do limit the spread of COVID-19 compared to other community settings. It is going take a concerted effort to continue to keep our schools safe and we need your support as outlined below.
- As more students are tested, it is fully expected that case numbers will increase. IUSD will continue to follow all state and local guidelines and implement effective health and safety mitigation strategies on our campuses. For more detailed information, click here.
- Families should continue their 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.
- If your student is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, please keep them home and follow the parent reporting instructions.
- If your holiday plans included travel, please continue to monitor and follow all CDC and California Department of Public Health guidelines, including the recent travel advisory for California.
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
IUSD remains in contact with the CDPH and the Orange County Health Care Agency. We will continue to closely monitor this fluid situation and provide updates to the IUSD community when new information is available. The health and safety of our students, staff and families is our priority and as we have done since the onset of COVID-19, we will continue to follow state and local guidelines and adapt as needed.
Thank You for Your Partnership
Thank you in advance for your partnership and for following health and safety guidelines. We look forward to welcoming our students back to school on Monday.
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.