ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Union School District returned to campus this week following winter break with at least 245 students in isolation or quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with 31 absences of faculty that require substitute teachers.
The district currently has an enrollment of around 13,500 students.
The school district’s testing sites have reported positive test results at a similar rate as San Diego County has seen as a whole during the recent surge of COVID-19.
At a San Dieguito testing site for students and faculty on Jan. 10 at Torrey Pines High School, Phamatech partnered with the district to administer PCR tests for COVID-19, administering 573 tests with a positivity rate of 28%.
The next day at a similar testing site at La Costa Canyon, Phamatech administered 556 tests with a positivity rate of 26%.
The seven-day average for positive tests in the county is currently 27.9% in San Diego County.
In addition, the district has at least 31 unfilled or uncovered staff absences including 24 certificated teachers.
The district has been hard at work trying to bring in more credentialed substitutes to fill in the gaps including recently increasing the compensation rate.
“This is really to secure subs to stay with us. Many subs work different districts all at once so maybe they will put us first and choose us first,” Associate Superintendent Olga West said.
The school district is using California Department of Public Health definitions of “isolation” and “quarantine,” meaning a student or faculty member is in isolation if they have shown symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive either through a PCR or at-home antigen test.
Student and faculty members are in quarantine if they have been in close contact with someone who has either shown symptoms or has tested positive.
If a student or faculty member is in isolation they must remain isolated for a minimum of five days and may return to campus if their symptoms are subsiding and they can provide a negative test result on day five or after.
“That day five is dependent upon when their symptoms started or when their positive test result was, whatever came first,” Director of School and Student Services Tiffany Hazelwood said. “If they can get a negative test result they can return as early as day six.”
However, the student or faculty member must commit to wearing a tight-fitting face mask at all times when on campus, including during sports activities, and not stand within six feet from anyone who is immunocompromised.
If they are unable to commit to those requirements, the individual must remain in isolation for 10 days.
Students and faculty may use an at-home test to receive a negative result but for students, they must have their parents or guardians submit a student home test attestation form.
Vaccination to COVID-19 is recommended but not required at San Dieguito Union High School District, and as such, vaccinated and unvaccinated persons will have different rules for quarantine.
If a person is fully vaccinated and showing no symptoms then they are not required to quarantine if they are in close contact with someone who is infected. Unvaccinated persons will have to quarantine for anywhere from 1-10 days if the individual was wearing a mask and 7-10 days if they were not.
The district has stated they remain strongly committed to keeping schools open and only closing them as a last resort. To that end, the school board passed a resolution this week committing to keep its campuses open for “safe, in-person education.”