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Rising COVID-19 infections hit Palo Alto schools

District reports highest number of weekly cases since January omicron wave

Parent volunteer Cindy Yip looks over as senior Cassandra Taleno Sin-Chi Liu breaks her nasal swab in half at a COVID-19 testing clinic at Palo Alto High School on Jan. 12, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Local schools are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, mirroring trends seen throughout Santa Clara County and in many parts of the country.

The Palo Alto Unified School District recorded 131 students and 22 staff members testing positive for COVID-19 last week, according to the district's data dashboard. That's the highest number of weekly cases in Palo Alto schools since January and continues a pattern of rising cases that the district has been experiencing since students returned from spring break last month. The district has roughly 10,500 students.

The increasing prevalence of COVID-19 is being felt throughout the community. On Wednesday, May 11, Santa Clara County reported an average of 798 new cases per day, a rate more than five times higher than in the trough of mid-March, when fewer than 150 new cases were being reported on average each day.

Health officials say that the increase is due to the spread of highly contagious omicron subvariants and that the actual number of cases is likely higher than those reported because of the use of home test kits. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is urging the public to wear masks indoors and get tested if they feel sick.

Masks remain optional in Palo Alto schools, after the district lifted its mandate in mid-March. That's in line with most other school districts in the region. Only a limited number, including the Ravenswood City School District, currently require masking.

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The Mountain View Whisman School District reinstated its indoor mask mandate late last month after identifying a case of on-campus COVID-19 transmission. Last week, the district announced the requirement would stay through the end of the school year. The 4,500-student district reported 33 students and three staff members testing positive in the last seven days as of May 18.

Over in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, 50 students have reported positive tests so far this week, the highest weekly number since the omicron wave in mid-January. The high school district has roughly 4,500 students.

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Zoe Morgan covers education, youth and families for the Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Weekly / PaloAltoOnline.com, with a focus on using data to tell compelling stories. A Mountain View native, she has previous experience as an education reporter in both California and Oregon. Read more >>

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Rising COVID-19 infections hit Palo Alto schools

District reports highest number of weekly cases since January omicron wave

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, May 20, 2022, 6:59 am

Local schools are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, mirroring trends seen throughout Santa Clara County and in many parts of the country.

The Palo Alto Unified School District recorded 131 students and 22 staff members testing positive for COVID-19 last week, according to the district's data dashboard. That's the highest number of weekly cases in Palo Alto schools since January and continues a pattern of rising cases that the district has been experiencing since students returned from spring break last month. The district has roughly 10,500 students.

The increasing prevalence of COVID-19 is being felt throughout the community. On Wednesday, May 11, Santa Clara County reported an average of 798 new cases per day, a rate more than five times higher than in the trough of mid-March, when fewer than 150 new cases were being reported on average each day.

Health officials say that the increase is due to the spread of highly contagious omicron subvariants and that the actual number of cases is likely higher than those reported because of the use of home test kits. The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is urging the public to wear masks indoors and get tested if they feel sick.

Masks remain optional in Palo Alto schools, after the district lifted its mandate in mid-March. That's in line with most other school districts in the region. Only a limited number, including the Ravenswood City School District, currently require masking.

The Mountain View Whisman School District reinstated its indoor mask mandate late last month after identifying a case of on-campus COVID-19 transmission. Last week, the district announced the requirement would stay through the end of the school year. The 4,500-student district reported 33 students and three staff members testing positive in the last seven days as of May 18.

Over in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, 50 students have reported positive tests so far this week, the highest weekly number since the omicron wave in mid-January. The high school district has roughly 4,500 students.

Comments

No heat
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2022 at 9:29 am
No heat, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on May 20, 2022 at 9:29 am

FYI vaccine boosters were just approved by the CDC for ages 5-11, and you can schedule an appointment at Web Link


CoCo
Registered user
Midtown
on May 20, 2022 at 1:06 pm
CoCo, Midtown
Registered user
on May 20, 2022 at 1:06 pm

Finally! I've been waiting for PA Online to notice this story - the cases have been going up steadily for the past month. The district has the case count information on their website, but as someone who works in one of the local elementary schools, there has been very little effort to communicate with staff or parents or students about the increased risk. Some kids are coming to school with masks - some wear them on their wrists (which is about as effective as wearing a bike helmet with the straps hanging loose) , and some continue to wear them in the classroom. We have kids in the class that are CLEARLY sick and unmasked and when they are encouraged to go home, say "No, I'm fine." There is weekly testing available on site, but the numbers of kids getting tested at my school site has dropped dramatically. To protect myself, I wear a mask and got a second booster. But please parents, keep your kids home if they don't look well, encourage your kids to wear a mask at least inside the classroom, and realize that there are still many younger siblings of elementary aged kids who cannot be protected by the vaccine yet. I'm just as tired of taking COVID precautions as everyone else, but my husband picked up COVID traveling and even with two shots and a booster, felt awful. This is not "just a cold." There are only two weeks left of school with a lot of end of year events that you and your kids don't want to miss if COVID finds your family. We know how to mitigate risk - so let's pull together and do it.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2022 at 10:54 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 20, 2022 at 10:54 pm

It’s been over 2 years. Why haven’t we learned that a) cases is a meaningless stat and 2) we have no proven tools to prevent transmission. All we can do is mitigate the effects. Thankfully Covid has largely spared our youth.


Virginia Smedberg
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 20, 2022 at 11:52 pm
Virginia Smedberg, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 20, 2022 at 11:52 pm

thank you CoCo for saying all that. One of my violin students (goes to a private school in MP) went on a school trip a couple of weeks ago - everyone was spozed to self test before they got on the bus, nonetheless 16 of them came home sick...!!! Let's ALL please be more considerate of those who can't get vaxed and those who are more vulnerable even if vaxed. As our Opera San Jose General Director said to the audience of Carmen in April - wearing a mask (in the theater) is an act of LOVE.


PAMF discourage patients
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2022 at 9:32 am
PAMF discourage patients , Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on May 21, 2022 at 9:32 am

Please be mindful-wear masks, wash hands, take a rapid test when symptoms started. We don’t want to miss last two weeks of school, finals & school fun events, summer vacation and make other vulnerable sick. Thanks all.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2022 at 4:02 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on May 21, 2022 at 4:02 pm

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