The Culver City Unified School District, the first K-12 public school system in the nation to issue a mandate to vaccinate students against coronavirus, announced Friday that due to the spike in coronavirus cases, it will close all of its schools the following day. next week to give students and staff time to “recover and recuperate,” the superintendent said.
“Things sped up too quickly,” Superintendent Quoc Tran said in an interview, referring to the spike in coronavirus cases that overtaxed the district by 7,100 students and 900 employees. By taking a few days off, he said, “everyone will have a chance to be away from each other, recover and recover and come back on Monday.”
Several other districts in Los Angeles County delayed the start of the spring semester or closed schools amid the surge, including Montebello Unified and two schools in San Gabriel.
The district will be closed Monday and Tuesday due to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. vacation and a scheduled no instruction day. Instead of returning on Wednesday, students will stay home for the rest of the week and catch up on teaching hours later in the year, Tran said. Students will be sent home with a coronavirus test kit and they will have to show a negative test to return on January 24.
The decision comes with the support of the school board, staff unions and administrators, Tran said.
Since the school district returned on Jan. 3, staff have been overwhelmed with contact tracing efforts, staffing shortages and difficulties obtaining medical-grade masks and coronavirus testing. The district on Wednesday sent a class of elementary students home for remote instruction after multiple cases of coronavirus were identified among students.
The days off will also hopefully ease families’ fears of the outbreak, Tran said, and give families time to enroll students in regular coronavirus testing offered by the district. There are still hundreds of students who are not registered.
Tran also said the break will give his district time to prepare for possible teacher departures on Jan. 18, the deadline by which all staff must be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.
To date, 4% of staff members remain unvaccinated, i.e. 38 people. And 82% of eligible students ages 12 and older have been vaccinated, according to the district, which last month scrapped the deadline to focus on safety measures such as masking and coronavirus testing.
But the neighborhood has been hit hard by the current coronavirus outbreak. The district has recorded 565 positive student cases since August 2020 — and 441 have been reported in the past two weeks.
Los Angeles Times