COVID-19 cases are declining on local school campuses after an unprecedented surge earlier this month, according to district officials in Mountain View and Palo Alto.
The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District saw 32 students test positive last week, down substantially from 96 the week before and 126 during the first week back from winter break. So far this week, the district has only reported 13 students testing positive. Staff case numbers are similarly going down.
"I think we're cautiously optimistic," Associate Superintendent Leyla Benson said in an interview last week. "We don't want to relax, because this has been a long journey and we want to continue to stay safe and proactive. … Certainly we are relieved to see things going in this direction versus another direction."
Benson confirmed on Friday, Jan. 28, that the district is seeing the same trend of declining cases.
Other districts have also had fewer students and staff testing positive. Mountain View Whisman had 60 students test positive in the last seven days. Last Friday, that number was 101 and the week before it was 138. Mountain View Whisman reports its cases on a seven day rolling basis.
The Los Altos School District reported 34 students tested positive this week, compared with 55 last week and 78 the week before.
Palo Alto Unified had 180 cases among students last week, a decrease from the 227 cases the week before. Because Palo Alto reports its cases on a weekly basis, this week's numbers aren't yet posted.
"The cases went down (last week)," Superintendent Don Austin said. "We'll see if that's a trend after the next week, but we believe maybe it is."
Austin also said that he and some other superintendents are trying to shift away from making predictions about where cases might trend in the future, believing that is better left to the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health.
Within the school district, Austin said that student attendance rates have been improving and are nearing typical levels, with staff absences also declining.
"Definitely, that's going in the right direction for right now," Austin said. "We've had less classes to cover (and) substitutes have been able to be arranged for a higher percentage because of the lower absence rates."