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Mountain View Whisman students sent home after children test positive for COVID-19

Students at Monta Loma Elementary School are in quarantine following a positive COVID-19 case at the school. The school is seen here in June 2019. Photo by Magali Gauthier

Students at three schools in the Mountain View Whisman School District have been ordered to stay home and quarantine this week after someone tested positive for COVID-19 at each campus, marking a surge in positive cases since in-person instruction resumed.

The district received notice on Friday that a student attending Landels Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19, according to district spokeswoman Shelly Hausman. The next day, two students at Monta Loma Elementary tested positive. And on Monday, a student at Mariano Castro Elementary School was confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.

In an email to parents Saturday night, district officials warned that either a student or staff member at Monta Loma tested positive for COVID-19, and that those who went to campus last week and came in close contact with the person must stay home. Children who were exposed to the sick student have been asked to quarantine for 10 days, reverting back to remote learning via Zoom.

A total of 28 students at Landels have been asked to quarantine, along with 12 students at Monta Loma and 11 students at Castro.

Families with quarantined children who show symptoms of COVID-19 are being asked to get a COVID-19 test immediately, while those who are asymptomatic are asked to schedule a test six days after the last exposure. The affected classroom cohort must remain off campus until at least May 7, and are scheduled to return on May 10.

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The mandatory quarantine is among the tight protocols in effect to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in public schools since reopening for in-person instruction in March. Mountain View Whisman is hardly an anomaly, as kids and staff are frequently testing positive for the virus in reopened schools throughout the Bay Area. Since the start of the school year in August, 15 students in the district have tested positive, and 126 students have been quarantined as a precautionary measure.

District officials believe the recent increase in COVID-19 cases among students may have to do with spring break and an increase in gatherings, which could be boosting the transmission of the virus and forcing more students back to remote learning.

"It's important that people know that the pandemic is not over yet and it's of utmost importance that people continue to wear masks -- especially unvaccinated kids -- wash hands, and keep distance," Hausman said.

Landels Elementary School has the highest number of students quarantined to date with 38, followed by Castro Elementary at 30 and Monta Loma at 24. Five students have tested positive for COVID-19 at Castro, the highest of all the school sites, while the lowest exposure has been at Huff Elementary with just one staff member testing positive and two people quarantined.

A total of 23 staff have tested positive and 61 have had to quarantine since August last year, though the number includes district office staff and those who do not work directly with students. Staff who have been vaccinated generally do not have to quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.

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Though in-person instruction began in mid-March, it took until April 26 for the first COVID-19 case on campus to force students into quarantine. At the time, 10 people at Crittenden Middle School were quarantined.

The neighboring Sunnyvale school district is reporting significantly fewer COVID-19 cases so far, with four students who are participating in in-person instruction testing positive since January. In Palo Alto Unified -- which is twice the size of Mountain View Whisman, started in-person instruction earlier and includes high school students -- there have been 32 students and 34 staff who have tested positive since January.

County health rules require school districts to report new cases of COVID-19 within four hours, and take preventative action to avoid an outbreak of three or more cases linked to exposure at a school. The hurdle for a school closure is fairly high, requiring an outbreak in at least 25% of student cohorts within a 14-day period or a sequence of outbreaks that affects at least 5% of the student body.

Parents are later notified via email that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, including whether their child has been exposed and needs to quarantine.

Though COVID-19 cases are temporarily forcing some students back into remote learning, the number of new cases in Mountain View remains relatively low. Over the last month there have been 117 new cases, roughly the same as the 103 new cases for March and significantly lower than February (412 cases) and January (764 new cases).

With cases dropping significantly earlier this year, state officials sought to incentivize schools swiftly reopening for in-person instruction in the spring. State funding hinged on schools reopening by April 1, a deadline that all three of Mountain View's local school districts met. Though the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District officially resumed in-person classes on April 19, the district's so-called stable groups met the state's criteria for funding.

Mountain View-Los Altos had one student test positive in the first week. District officials did not immediately respond to requests for more information.

More information on the Mountain View Whisman School District's COVID-19 guidelines and protocols can be found online.

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Mountain View Whisman students sent home after children test positive for COVID-19

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, May 4, 2021, 1:30 pm

Students at three schools in the Mountain View Whisman School District have been ordered to stay home and quarantine this week after someone tested positive for COVID-19 at each campus, marking a surge in positive cases since in-person instruction resumed.

The district received notice on Friday that a student attending Landels Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19, according to district spokeswoman Shelly Hausman. The next day, two students at Monta Loma Elementary tested positive. And on Monday, a student at Mariano Castro Elementary School was confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.

In an email to parents Saturday night, district officials warned that either a student or staff member at Monta Loma tested positive for COVID-19, and that those who went to campus last week and came in close contact with the person must stay home. Children who were exposed to the sick student have been asked to quarantine for 10 days, reverting back to remote learning via Zoom.

A total of 28 students at Landels have been asked to quarantine, along with 12 students at Monta Loma and 11 students at Castro.

Families with quarantined children who show symptoms of COVID-19 are being asked to get a COVID-19 test immediately, while those who are asymptomatic are asked to schedule a test six days after the last exposure. The affected classroom cohort must remain off campus until at least May 7, and are scheduled to return on May 10.

The mandatory quarantine is among the tight protocols in effect to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in public schools since reopening for in-person instruction in March. Mountain View Whisman is hardly an anomaly, as kids and staff are frequently testing positive for the virus in reopened schools throughout the Bay Area. Since the start of the school year in August, 15 students in the district have tested positive, and 126 students have been quarantined as a precautionary measure.

District officials believe the recent increase in COVID-19 cases among students may have to do with spring break and an increase in gatherings, which could be boosting the transmission of the virus and forcing more students back to remote learning.

"It's important that people know that the pandemic is not over yet and it's of utmost importance that people continue to wear masks -- especially unvaccinated kids -- wash hands, and keep distance," Hausman said.

Landels Elementary School has the highest number of students quarantined to date with 38, followed by Castro Elementary at 30 and Monta Loma at 24. Five students have tested positive for COVID-19 at Castro, the highest of all the school sites, while the lowest exposure has been at Huff Elementary with just one staff member testing positive and two people quarantined.

A total of 23 staff have tested positive and 61 have had to quarantine since August last year, though the number includes district office staff and those who do not work directly with students. Staff who have been vaccinated generally do not have to quarantine after possible exposure to the virus.

Though in-person instruction began in mid-March, it took until April 26 for the first COVID-19 case on campus to force students into quarantine. At the time, 10 people at Crittenden Middle School were quarantined.

The neighboring Sunnyvale school district is reporting significantly fewer COVID-19 cases so far, with four students who are participating in in-person instruction testing positive since January. In Palo Alto Unified -- which is twice the size of Mountain View Whisman, started in-person instruction earlier and includes high school students -- there have been 32 students and 34 staff who have tested positive since January.

County health rules require school districts to report new cases of COVID-19 within four hours, and take preventative action to avoid an outbreak of three or more cases linked to exposure at a school. The hurdle for a school closure is fairly high, requiring an outbreak in at least 25% of student cohorts within a 14-day period or a sequence of outbreaks that affects at least 5% of the student body.

Parents are later notified via email that a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, including whether their child has been exposed and needs to quarantine.

Though COVID-19 cases are temporarily forcing some students back into remote learning, the number of new cases in Mountain View remains relatively low. Over the last month there have been 117 new cases, roughly the same as the 103 new cases for March and significantly lower than February (412 cases) and January (764 new cases).

With cases dropping significantly earlier this year, state officials sought to incentivize schools swiftly reopening for in-person instruction in the spring. State funding hinged on schools reopening by April 1, a deadline that all three of Mountain View's local school districts met. Though the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District officially resumed in-person classes on April 19, the district's so-called stable groups met the state's criteria for funding.

Mountain View-Los Altos had one student test positive in the first week. District officials did not immediately respond to requests for more information.

More information on the Mountain View Whisman School District's COVID-19 guidelines and protocols can be found online.

Comments

harvardmom
Registered user
Monta Loma
on May 4, 2021 at 3:17 pm
harvardmom, Monta Loma
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Please continue to keep us informed about the COVID situations in the Mountain View and Los Altos schools. Thank you.


A Talking Cat
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2021 at 9:08 pm
A Talking Cat, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 9:08 pm

Huh, that’s weird. You put a whole bunch of unvaccinated children close together in rooms during a pandemic, then—and here’s the weird part—they got infected. What an unexpected outcome that no one could have possibly predicted!


Christopher Chiang
Registered user
North Bayshore
on May 4, 2021 at 10:42 pm
Christopher Chiang, North Bayshore
Registered user
on May 4, 2021 at 10:42 pm

The number of students any school sends home for being in contact with a positive case is not the same thing as the number of students testing positive.

The test positive rates for Los Altos School District and MVWSD can be found at:
LASD (data by week): Web Link
MVWSD (data accumulatively): Web Link

(words expressed are solely my own and not on behalf of the school board)


Tal Shaya
Registered user
another community
on May 5, 2021 at 7:22 am
Tal Shaya, another community
Registered user
on May 5, 2021 at 7:22 am

"Over the last month there have been 117 new cases, roughly the same as the 103 new cases for March..."

Twenty percent higher is "roughly the same?" How's your math?


Kevin Forestieri
Registered user
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on May 5, 2021 at 8:06 am
Kevin Forestieri, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
Registered user
on May 5, 2021 at 8:06 am

@Tal
A month-over-month difference of 14 cases does not appear to be significant when looking at Mountain View’s trends over the last year (and it’s also not a 20% increase). But as cases level off we can certainly flag smaller changes.


MV Resident
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on May 5, 2021 at 8:24 am
MV Resident, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on May 5, 2021 at 8:24 am

It’s important to note that this occurred 2 weeks after spring break.


PeaceLove
Registered user
Shoreline West
on May 6, 2021 at 5:38 pm
PeaceLove, Shoreline West
Registered user
on May 6, 2021 at 5:38 pm

[Post removed due to disinformation]


Impacted parent
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on May 7, 2021 at 4:58 pm
Impacted parent, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on May 7, 2021 at 4:58 pm

As the parent of a child asked to quarantine - I have been impressed and grateful for the guidance and oversight from the school district. The communications from the school (and the county) have been prompt, transparent and clear in their guidance. They follow-up regularly and are personal and caring in their approach. And....masks and the protocols are working as designed. Thank you.


ShockedImpactedParent
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on May 12, 2021 at 4:22 pm
ShockedImpactedParent, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on May 12, 2021 at 4:22 pm

I am glad you had a positive experience with your child's quarantine, but that was not case for this family. The communications were confusing, contained incorrect information, and provided little guidance on testing or next steps. Other than a single email, we never heard directly from the school or district and never heard from the county at all. The lack of compassion or concern was upsetting for what might have been an adverse outcome. Thankfully a negative test and a week at home and my kid returned to class safely.


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