COVID-19 regulations have been eased in the Santa Barbara Unified School District, but vaccinations are still required for staff.
That’s according to an administrator who talked to the News-Press after Thursday’s new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is recommending schools across the nation relax their regulations.
“We are not requiring students to be vaccinated,” said Steve Venz, chief operations Officer for Santa Barbara Unified School District. “However, we will be working with county health to provide opportunities for vaccinations.
“Regarding the staff, they are expected to be vaccinated or have an exemption by the state of California,” Mr. Venz told the News-Press Thursday.
“We are following the California Department of Health as well as County Public Health Department policies, and masks are recommended but not required in classrooms for staff and students,” Mr. Venz said.
“The school district is no longer doing surveillance testing (randomized testing), while contact tracing is dependent on the need,” he noted.
“We are not doing surveillance testing of after school programs such as sports or the arts,” Mr. Venz said. “Athletes are no longer required to be tested weekly. We also have at-home tests, which will be distributed to students and staff.”
Dr. Henning Ansorg, the Santa Barbara County public health officer, told the News-Press Thursday that the CDC and the California Department of Public Health are giving recommendations and guidance on how to protect students and staff at schools.
“The currently circulating virus has changed from previous variants that were present during last school year,” Dr. Ansorg said in an email to the News-Press.
He also reported an increased occurrence of “at least partial immunity in most of our residents.
“Currently our community COVID-19 level is in the ‘moderate’ tier and trending down,” Dr. Ansorg said. “Our healthcare system and hospitals are in a good position to take care of COVID-19 cases. We have medications and vaccines that help prevent severe illness.”
“Students with symptoms should not attend school and get tested at home or with their physician,” he said, but noted it’s safe for students in general to attend school.
“Our data have shown that infections are mostly carried into school from the community and do not occur at school,” Dr. Ansorg said. “Periodic testing and screening for symptoms is still recommended to keep the risk for the spread of COVID-19 at school at a minimum.”
According to Mr. Venz, students and staff are no longer required to quarantine due to exposure. “When a student or staff member tests positive for COVID, they can return on Day 11 or return as early as Day 6 with a negative test on or after Day 5 and have no symptoms or fever. Day 0 (Zero) is the day when the individual receives a positive test or has symptoms of COVID,”
“I think it’s important for people to know that we are still tracking and following procedures and making sure the school is safe,” Mr. Venz said. “We will continue to be vigilant and report outbreaks to the county and continue to stay on top of it making sure that everyone is safe.”