- Helms Middle School
Staffing Shortage and LSA Testing Results Update for January 11, 2022
Dear WCCUSD community:
I want to share an update with you about our staffing shortages. I understand the return from break has been very difficult for many school communities, with many staff and students who are out sick.
Calling in sick is understandable and an action we expect employees to take if they test positive for COVID-19 or are feeling any symptoms. However, employees coordinating with one another to call in sick together is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This type of action is not helpful and exacerbates our current issues, causing immense challenges for the remaining school community who do show up. In the end, it is students and families who are not served when staff coordinate together to not show up at school. Today, we had educators at two schools, Fred T. Korematsu Middle School and Grant Elementary School, who took this action.
We are very proud of the work our hardworking staff do every day. We understand the immense stress so many of our employees and families are under as people around them, and those close to them, test positive for the virus. There is so much that is being placed on the back of educators, classified staff, and site administrators. We want to acknowledge that you are going above and beyond what you signed up for. It is important that we work together during this time, and I am committed to doing so.
We have taken drastic measures to keep our staff and students safe, and to keep our schools open so in-person instruction can continue. Recent action we have taken includes:
- Closing all schools last week for two days for “smoke days,” allowing for time to heal and for district leadership to plan.
- Opening three district-wide testing centers to serve students, families and staff.
- Continuing our school-site testing program (we are one of the few districts in the state to offer testing at schools every week).
- Providing all employees with KN95 masks, which they are required to wear at work.
- Providing students with surgical masks this week, which they will be required to wear starting on Monday, January 17.
We are filling as many staffing vacancies as we can with substitute teachers, but like districts across the country we also have a shortage of available substitutes. We have deployed central office staff to school sites around the district to assist with the staffing shortage since the winter break. I was out at a school site substitute teaching today. Whenever possible, we send out certificated administrators with the intent of helping schools from having to combine classes.
All of us can do our part to ensure schools are safe and learning can continue, and we thank everyone in our district for the important work you are doing to help us navigate these difficult times. We need to continue to work together as a learning community to tackle these ongoing challenges.
Dr. Kenneth Chris Hurst
Update from LSA Labs regarding testing delays
We apologize for the delay in receiving some of the results from this past week from the testing that has taken place within the West Contra Costa County School District. While we were anticipating a rise in testing volume due to Omicron over the past week, we could not have predicted the type of demand that we have seen so far in 2022. Compounding the issue, positivity rates soared above 30% overall among all LSA clients. Positive results must be double checked and take a considerable amount of time.
We are working hard to provide the quickest turnaround possible for our clients and expect to be back to our normal turnaround times by late this week.
We appreciate your partnership and patience as we all work through the current challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Thank you, LSA Labs