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OUSD updates COVID-19 protocols as students return to campus

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Grant Phillips, Ojai Valley News reporter

As students return to Ojai Unified School District schools this week, they were greeted with new COVID-19 protocols to keep children safe during in-person attendance. 

Despite the Centers for Disease Control lowering the quarantine requirements to five days for individuals who contract COVID, these guidelines have not been adopted by the California Department of Public Health or Ventura County Public Health, so there is a longer quarantine requirement for California schools.

In a written statement released to parents from OUSD Superintendent Tiffany Morse on Dec. 31, it was announced that all OUSD schools will be open for in-person instruction. 

“If, at any time, your child shows even mild symptoms of COVID-19 — including a sore throat, fever, cough, headache, body aches, diarrhea, and nausea or vomiting — please keep them home,” she wrote. 

This includes practices, games and performances as well. 

If a student is feeling ill, OUSD recommends filling out an “Absence from School” form at https://bit.ly/3HuRP7T, along with keeping the child home. 

OUSD will also offer free COVID-19 testing for students at every school campus. The full schedule for testing can be found at https://bit.ly/32EE4Fd

In addition to on-site testing, OUSD has partnered with the Ventura County Office of Education to provide at-home testing kits. The current date of delivery to the VCOE is between Jan. 3 and Jan. 7, with distribution to OUSD shortly after. 

“A major effort is underway to expand optional COVID-19 testing for students so we can reduce the chances of the virus spreading at school,” said Ventura County Superintendent of Schools César Morales. “Many school districts have been working diligently during the winter break to distribute home test kits to families, and we expect a greater supply of kits to be available soon.” 

An update related to face coverings based on CDC recommendations were also included in the release: 

— Face coverings should have two or more layers of washable fabric. 

— Should completely cover the nose and mouth.

— Should fit snugly against the sides of the face without gaps. 

If a student is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they will not be required to quarantine if they are vaccinated, unless symptoms are present. 

Unvaccinated individuals who have been deemed a close contact to a COVID-19 positive case (being within 6 feet, without a mask, for 15 minutes or more) have two quarantine options:

1. 10-day quarantine: If the person exposed remains asymptomatic, they can end quarantine after Day 10 from the date of last exposure without testing. 

2. 7-day quarantine: If the person exposed remains asymptomatic, they can end quarantine after Day 7 if a COVID-19 test is taken after Day 5 from the date of last exposure and the test returns negative. 

Students or staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate. This includes staying home from school and all athletic or school-related activities. 

The California Department of Public Health calculates 10 days from the date of the positive test or the date of symptoms beginning. 

In order to be cleared from isolation and return to campus, symptomatic individuals must:

1. Allow 10 days to pass since symptoms onset; AND 

2. At least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; AND

3. Other symptoms have improved.

For asymptomatic individuals: 

— At least 10 days must have passed since the date of the first positive COVID-19 test. If symptoms develop, then the criteria for symptomatic individuals should be used. 

All schools and school districts, both public and private, are required to follow the current state and county guidelines. 

“The state of California does not currently permit pre-K-12 schools to offer distance learning and expects all schools to keep their doors open for in-person instruction,” according to a VCOE press release. “Schools do provide an independent study option that allows students to learn from home. But unlike distance learning, it must be requested individually by families and is not intended to serve large numbers of students.” 

Ventura County Public Health also announced that while supplies last, they will be distributing a limited amount of COVID-19 home testing kits for free on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 at the drive through distribution center located at 275 E Pleasant Valley Road, Camarillo 93010. Enter at Freedom Park Dr. past the baseball fields. Tests will be available:

– Jan. 3 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

– Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Priority will be given to Ventura County residents that: 

1. Were exposed recently to someone that has been confirmed COVID-19 positive 

2. That have had symptoms for 2-3 days. 

This will be a separate effort from the upcoming school district distribution of similar tests for students. 

The rapid antigen home-test kit drive-through distribution will include 1 box (2 tests per adult) or 2 boxes (4 tests per household). At home test kits show results within 15 minutes. 

Current efforts are also underway to expand PCR testing throughout the county, including setting up new large sites and expanding the days, hours, lanes at several of the 14 state testing locations. 

Additional informaton on testing can be found here: https://www.venturacountyrecovers.org/ 

An additional COVID-19 resource guide from OUSD can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3ERtHLd.