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Increased COVID-19 Testing, January 3, 2022
Dear WCCUSD community:
Welcome back, and happy new year! I am grateful to welcome all of our students, staff and families back to school, and I hope that you enjoyed the winter break.
As we begin the new year, I want to update you about the steps we have been taking regarding COVID-19 safety. The omicron variant has caused a spike in cases, which has resulted in more absences than usual, as well as more fear and unease, for many of our school communities. The rapid spread of the virus requires an aggressive response to ensure safety.
We are taking extra precautions. This includes increasing our testing capacity both in the number of kits we distribute, and opening up three additional testing sites available to all students and staff district-wide. We also want to remind everyone: if your student is feeling sick or exhibiting any symptoms, please do not bring them to school.
Test kit distribution
Thanks to quick action and a herculean effort from WCCUSD staff and volunteers, we distributed approximately 15,000 COVID-19 test kits to families on Sunday, the day before school, enabling many more students to get tested before returning to school.
There were 5,000 cars at our two drive-through locations, Kennedy High and Pinole Valley High and we were able to keep the lines moving quickly because of the hard work from our staff and volunteers. I’d like to acknowledge the support of UTR in securing volunteers, and thank our teachers for coming in to volunteer on a Sunday as well. We received the kits late Thursday afternoon, during the winter break and right before New Year’s Eve, causing us to work under a very tight timeline. I am proud and grateful for this effort.
These tests were supplied to us by the Contra Costa County Office of Education through California Department of Public Health (CDPH). We do have additional tests from this shipment that were not used on Sunday. These test kits will be distributed to school sites, and are a one-time resource that was provided to us and will not be replenished. With that said, please be mindful that
New testing sites
Starting tomorrow – Tuesday, January 4, 2022 – our district is opening up three additional testing centers for all WCCUSD students and staff: at the Alvarado Adult School in Richmond; the Ohlone Elementary School campus in Hercules; and the district central office in Richmond. The testing sites will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
These sites are intended for students and staff who have had a positive COVID-19 test at home. If a student or staff member has a positive test with an at-home test (which are antigen tests), we ask that you go to confirm if it’s a positive test by taking a PCR test at one of these three new locations. The new testing centers will also provide antigen tests. Please do not bring anyone to school who may have been exposed to the virus, instead we ask that you bring them to one of the new testing locations.
Please note that you are required to register for testing at the additional testing centers before you arrive. The registration process is the same as it has been for testing at school sites. Please visit our website for more information, where you also can find instructional videos on how to register for a test.
Regular weekly testing and athletic testing are still available at school sites. You do not have to make an appointment to receive a regular or athletic weekly test.
Increased safety and mitigation strategies
We are examining all of our COVID-19 practices and procedures to ensure they are up to date with the latest guidance and reflect the reality of the moment we are in. This information can change quickly, so when we receive new guidance or clarity, we will be communicating that information out to you as quickly as we can. The district COVID-19 safety guide can be found on this page and is updated regularly. Please make sure students continue to wear a mask, and do so properly, covering the nose and mouth.
For the remainder of the month of January, and until there is further notice, we announced to staff today that they should not be meeting in-person and instead to conduct virtual meetings. We want to limit the amount of exposure time as much as possible to keep everyone safe and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This includes all school-site meetings, such as parent-teacher conferences. We will not hesitate to take further action to keep our community safe.
Experts remind us that the best way to protect everyone against the virus is to get vaccinated. All students ages 12 and older need to be fully vaccinated by February 18, 2022 to continue in-person learning, unless they have an approved medical exemption. Don’t forget to upload your students vaccination card at https://wccusd.powerschool.com/public/. For instructions and more information, visit www.wccusd.net/vaccinemandate.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to get vaccinated or get your booster shot. WCCUSD has partnered with Contra Costa County Health Services to host mobile vaccination clinics at our schools, which we will continue in 2022. These clinics will offer COVID-19 vaccination booster shots and there are clinics this week. We regularly update the list of school clinics here.
Thank you for your focus on safety, and taking action to stop the spread.
Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst