Opinion/Letters to the Editor August 2021


Aug. 27 issue:

COVID safety concerns need to be addressed by SDUHSD

Now that teachers and students are back in classes, COVID safety concerns must be addressed. These are six key areas that need to be tackled comprehensively and immediately by SDUHSD.

Inadequate Ventilation/Filtration

The CDC, CDPH, and County say it is critical there is air flow in rooms for the safety of students and staff. Students and teachers are reporting that HVAC and HEPA systems aren’t working and requests to fix them are ineffective. This creates unsafe learning environments. All classrooms must have at least 5 air exchanges per hour, the minimum number to maintain healthy air.

Masking Specifics/Enforcement

The August 19 proposed masking policy weakened the existing, board-adopted policy. It doesn’t include a definition of a proper face covering. It removes consequences for unmasking and puts enforcement on teachers rather than administrators. The policy adopted by the board on December 15, 2020 should be reinstated and strengthened.

COVID Notifications

Currently, the district will only notify families when there is a COVID case on campus or if a person is determined to be a close contact. Notifications are not being sent in a timely manner. Families should be notified when there is a positive case in a child’s classroom.

Symptom Considerations

SDUHSD is overwhelmed by contact tracing, and cases will continue to increase. There is no symptom check in place. In at least one case, a COVID+ student came to campus for two days thinking symptoms were allergies. Not acceptable. Some districts, not SDUHSD, sent clear instructions and a mandatory agreement to sign as a condition to learn on campus. SDUHSD must do a better job of communicating with families about symptoms and testing.

Surveillance COVID Testing

For testing to be most effective, it should be required and regular for everyone. Tests are free to schools. LA Unified, Culver City, and Santa Monica have implemented required surveillance testing and have found many asymptomatic positives. Other districts are working toward surveillance testing. Even with universal masking, without surveillance testing, around 20-35% of susceptible students would get infected by the end of the first semester. SDUHSD needs to implement a required surveillance testing program immediately.

COVID Prevention Staff

SDUHSD has not made additional hires related to COVID and has lost health techs. Contact tracing is falling to the assistant principals, who should be working on other issues. Building maintenance related to COVID is being piled onto a stretched-thin maintenance staff. No staff have been hired to administer testing or to ensure necessary training is taking place.

We call on SDUHSD to address these issues immediately to keep our community safe. Thank you.

Shannon Kearns

Holly Butte

On behalf of many SDUHSD parents. To see a full list, visit Open San Dieguito Safely on Facebook and Instagram