Over the past eight months, Lodi Unified School District administrative staff has received 450 reports of possible exposure to COVID-19, or positive test results.

“All 450 of these cases occurred outside our district,” chief business officer Leonard Kahn said during a special meeting of the District Advisory Committee and District English Learner Advisory Committee on Thursday night. “None of them occurred on any of our sites because staff followed our protocols.”

Thursday’s special meeting was held to review the district’s Pandemic Safety Plan, a six-page document that includes a contact list for information, a case response form to complete if an employee believes they have been exposed, and a critical supply list of equipment that combats COVID-19.

The document can be found online at www.tinyurl.com/LUSDpolicies.

The district has also added an exposure notification section to its COVID-19 resource page, which lists the date an employee was exposed, and at which site they work.

During the month of February, there have been six exposure notifications filed with principals at Lakewood, Needham and Woodbridge elementary schools, as well as Christa McAuliffe Middle School and Liberty High School. Two reports were made at Liberty High.

Kahn said if an employee believes they have been exposed to COVID-19, they will complete a case response form and give it to their site principal or department manager, who will then determine when the staff member can return to campus.

District policy requires an employee exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine for 10 days if they have been within six feet of someone for more than 15 minutes who has tested positive or has also been exposed, Kahn said.

The policy follows guidelines set forth by the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and San Joaquin County Public Health Services, he said.

Students are expected to return to campus once the county is promoted to the red tier of the CDPH’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The district has a testing protocol in place for when that finally happens, Kahn said.

“We have the ability to test 6,000 staff or students right now,” he said. “Every time we use 3,000 tests, I will buy another 3,000. So, if an employee requests a test or if some type of outbreak occurs at a site, we’ll give everyone a test.”

Once a test is requested, he said, they are delivered to an employee’s home or a student’s home, and they will perform a saliva swab test on themselves during a Zoom call with the testing company with which the district has contracted.

The testing company representative will then watch the employee or student seal the test results in a bag, which will then be shipped to the company via FedEx either that day or the following day, Kahn said.

Results should be made available to the employee and student, as well as the district office, within 12 to 48 hours, he said.

Staff members must ask their principal or department manager for a test, and a student’s parent must request one from the principal, he said.

A second testing system is also being considered, and Kahn said it may be in place by the time students return to campus.

“If required by the state, there is a system that allows us to give children masks,” he said. “They’ll have to wear the masks at school, and at the end of the day, we take the mask from them and send it to testing facility. I believe we could test thousands of students a day with this system.”

Students who are unable to wear masks for medical reasons will be tested with the other system, Kahn said.

If students are showing symptoms of COVD-19 during school they will be sent home. They will not be allowed on campus if they arrive showing symptoms, Kahn said.

In addition, a student who is symptomatic will not be allowed on a district school bus, and drivers must wait until the child’s parent or a transportation department employee arrives to take them home, he said.

“Parents, please,” Kahn pleaded during the meeting. “If your child is symptomatic, keep them home.”

The dilemma of transporting students to school on buses while following physical distancing guidelines has yet to be solved, Kahn said, as only 14 people would be allowed on vehicles under the 6-feet-apart rule.

Additionally, due to room capacity on campus and social distancing guidelines, Kahn said, the ability to return to school when one wants to may not be possible.

There will be distance learning options for students who cannot return to campus or who do not feel safe returning, including the Valley Robotics Academy and Independent Study schools. The district is also planning to offer a digital academy; an official announcement should be made in the future.

The district will make an official return to campus announcement once the county is promoted to the red tier, Kahn said.

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