LOS ANGELES (CNS) – As COVID-19 infections remain relatively low among K-12 students, Los Angeles County on Thursday announced the availability of a “modified quarantine” system that allows unvaccinated students exposed to the virus, to continue to attend personal classes under selected circumstances.
The optional system is available to unvaccinated students whose exposure to an infected person occurred when both were fully masked. The unvaccinated student should also not show symptoms of infection.
According to the county’s director of public health, Barbara Ferrer, the unvaccinated student who meets these basic conditions can continue to attend personal classes, but must remain asymptomatic and must always wear a mask. The student must also be quarantined at home at all times other than at school.
The student must be tested twice a week during the quarantine period, including once within one or two days after the exposure and again at least three days after the exposure. The changed quarantine period may end after seven days if the student tests negative at least five days after being exposed.
Ferrer said school districts are not required to offer the changed quarantine, noting that schools should have the necessary resources to enforce all of its requirements. She admitted that even in some cases, it could be difficult to control that the exposure occurred when both the unvaccinated student and the infected person both wore masks on all the time.
“It gets complicated when students do other activities together,” she said, pointing to students eating together or participating in outdoor activities during recess.
The changed quarantine procedure is only available to students, not teachers. The procedure also cannot be used in the event of a confirmed COVID outbreak on a campus.
Ferrer said COVID infections have been steadily declining among all pediatric age groups, and cases among students on school campuses in the county have occurred at a rate of about 0.5%. It is only slightly higher than the general infection rate in the county of 0.4%.
According to county statistics, between August 15 and September 13, there were 7,995 COVID infections among the approximately 1.5 million students in the county. The vast majority of them, 5,456, occurred among students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest in the county and second largest in the nation.
The county reported a further 28 COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, increasing the total death toll to 25,775. A further 2,023 cases were also confirmed, giving the county a total amount from the entire pandemic of 1,439,011.
The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus in the county was 1.6% from Thursday.
According to state figures, there were 1,156 COVID-positive patients at LA County hospitals from Thursday, down from 1,185 on Wednesday. There were 341 patients on intensive care, down from 351 a day earlier.
Los Angeles County on Wednesday had dropped out of the federal government’s most serious “high” transmission category and moved on to the “significant” category. On Thursday, however, new case numbers pushed the county back to the “high” transmission level. Ferrer said the move was likely due to a two-day delay in case reporting caused by computer upgrades made over the weekend, meaning no new cases were registered on Saturday and Sunday. As these cases were now reported, it was likely to affect the county’s overall COVID transfer rate.