After a successful first half of the 2021-2022 school year, El Monte City School District is taking all precautions necessary to ensure a safe return to school in January. Using funds from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, EMCSD has purchased roughly 9,000 COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests for all students and staff.
The tests were distributed to students on Monday, December 20 and Tuesday, December 21, while staff received their test kits before they left for holiday break. “We know many students and families have plans to travel or gather with friends and loved ones during winter break,” said Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia in a message to the community. “There may be instances where students and staff are exposed to COVID-19, especially with the increase in cases throughout California. In order to help our school communities feel more comfortable when we return, we have purchased take-home COVID-19 rapid tests for all students and staff.”
Throughout December, the state of California has seen a steady increase of COVID-19 cases, hinting at a new winter surge. Amid the rise in cases and concern over the new Omicron variant, the state of California reinstituted indoor mask mandates in hopes to limit the spread and hospitalizations. In a briefing held by state Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly said the statewide indoor mask mandate will be in effect from December 25 through January 15.
Dr. Garcia believes these tests will lessen any anxieties for families when students eventually return to school on January 5, 2022. “We want our students, staff, and families to be as safe as possible when traveling or interacting with others. We hope these tests give our school communities greater peace of mind throughout the break.”
She noted that taking the tests and returning a negative result is not required for staff or students. “The tests are an encouraged safety precaution, like outdoor mask wearing and social distancing. We want to provide our families with easily accessible resources so they can operate safely at school and at home.”
From August through December 16, the District has seen less than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases among students and staff. EMCSD credits safety protocols and practices by staff, students, and families. The District continues to enforce indoor and outdoor mask wearing at all district sites while providing ample amounts of personal protective equipment to both staff and students. EMCSD has also consistently hosted COVID-19 vaccination opportunities. Most recently, the District was able to vaccinate nearly 400 people at a Friday and Saturday clinic at Columbia and Gidley schools.