[Update, Sept. 8:] As of Wednesday, September 8, there were a total of three Malibu students / staff in quarantine following district-wide COVID-19 testing. Across the district, 489 students / staff were in quarantine as of Wednesday, the vast majority of them from Samohi (265) and John Adams Middle School (95), both in Santa Monica.
Malibu Public Schools launched a mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing program for all students and staff on August 30 and 31, almost two weeks after the start of the school year on August 19, with an inner mask / exterior required.
In a written report provided by Malibu High School Principal Patrick Miller and Malibu High School Principal Melisa Andino to The Malibu Times, educators described the rollout of the tests as a success.
“Malibu Middle School and Malibu High School had a successful first day of testing on Tuesday, August 31,” the report said. “About 85% of our students and families have successfully completed the registration process and were able to take the test today. As a result of SMMUSD’s decision to require weekly screening tests, we hope all remaining students and families will register by next week. On a certain date, we are told that only students participating in the testing program, submitting their own external PCR test according to our schedule, or those with an approved exemption will be able to continue our traditional tuition in person. . “
Principals wrote that the shallow nasal swab tests were self-administered by students under the supervision of Malibu Medical Group, adding, “We were able to rotate classes and most classes took less than 10 minutes. which minimized disruption. Overall I would say it went very well.
The statement concluded, “We both really hope that our children and families know that we care about each of them and hope that these additional health and safety measures will help us continue our education on campus with a minimum disturbance. “
When asked if there had been any problems so far, the educators replied no, but that “it has been an additional logistical challenge at an already busy time of year, back to school.”
Although LA County health protocols only require schools to provide testing for people with symptoms of COVID-19, SMMUSD and the school board have decided to go beyond that with a weekly testing regimen. for everyone – a huge undertaking for a district with about 9,000 students and 1,300 staff. The district believes the weekly testing will help prevent the spread of the disease and ensure that the 2021-22 in-person school year continues uninterrupted.
A statement issued by the Superintendent. Ben Drati said on August 11: “As Superintendent, if I’m wrong, I have to err on the side of making sure we’ve been too careful… with this new Delta variant. I must also … maximize and maintain the continuity of learning by doing our best to keep students and staff on campus throughout this journey.
Over time, those who do not participate in the program, undergo their own tests, or gain approval for a waiver would be given distance learning kits – Zoom classrooms are a thing of the past – and sent home. them. Some parents in the district have raised concerns about the testing program, including questions about confidentiality after being asked to sign consent forms to allow the district to share information, including social security numbers, with multiple test entities.
According to a parent who contacted The Malibu Times, Catherine Brickman, parents were also concerned that the weekly testing regimen would be viewed as a “surveillance test” rather than a clinical “individual diagnostic test” and therefore might not be covered by parents’ insurance companies.
Petitions have reportedly circulated to some schools, including Webster Elementary, asking the district to adopt what parents called a “legal and ethical testing program.”
Although the very first round of weekly testing was only just beginning in schools in Malibu, the live online SMMUSD COVID dashboard had COVID-19 data to report. A Malibu student or staff member at Webster Elementary has tested positive and a total of 28 students and / or staff at the four schools in Malibu were in quarantine as of Tuesday, August 31, a step that is taken when they have been in contact. with someone who has tested positive or after traveling. Three people were in isolation (due to COVID-like symptoms and / or a positive test). Individuals are counted until cleared by the school nurse.
To view the dashboard, visit: www.smmusd.org/Page/6297.
If a student or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19, the school nurse will take a Biofire 2.1 test, which takes a sample deep from the back of the nose and looks for 18 different pathogens, including COVID-19, influenza and various other viruses.
“These are the most common [pathogens] that cause respiratory symptoms. Rhinovirus is particularly important [because it’s the] common cold, ”Tara Brown, director of student services, told the Santa Monica Daily Press. “If someone just has a cold, we don’t need to quarantine the whole class.”
Two medical partners were engaged by the school district to initiate and manage the complex screening program: Doctor Now and Malibu Medical Group / CURE. The Malibu Medical Group will perform the tests for the four schools in Malibu: Malibu and Webster Elementary Schools, Malibu Middle School, and Malibu High School.
Each school’s school nurse, in partnership with the LA County Public Health Department, will be involved in contact tracing, exposure determination and close contact notification.
The school district allows families to request an exemption from masking and / or testing based on religious grounds, disability, medical condition, mental health issue or hearing problem that prevents their child from participating.
The expected costs of the SMMUSD COVID-19 testing will be covered by a grant from the LA County Office of Education (LACOE) of $ 1.8 million. Insurance companies will be billed and the government will reimburse uninsured people. However, the district also expects additional costs of $ 110,000 for the school year.