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TC Public Health: Keep Kids Home If Sick

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Sonora, CA — In just the first couple weeks of the new school year, the Tuolumne County Public Health Department reports that there have been 80 positive COVID-19 cases tied to the students and staff of local schools.

Michelle Jachetta, Tuolumne County Public Health Director, says, in addition, “There are at least 130 contacts (to those who tested positive) based on those cases involving schools.”

It has been the biggest challenge, and issue of concern, for public health staff this week.

We reported earlier that Summerville High is hitting the reset button, canceling classes today, cleaning the facilities, changing its quarantine policies, and likely starting up again on Tuesday.

Jachetta says that there are “two, or possibly three,” schools in which there has been spread confirmed on campus. She did not name the schools.

Other schools have had cases where a student or staff has contracted it, but the transmission point might have been off-campus.

Interim Health Officer, Dr. Eric Sergienko, says, “I think what it comes down to, bottom line, is that parents need to be honest, assess their kids, and keep them home if they are sick. Don’t send a kid to school sick, regardless of what the cause may be, Covid or not.”

In addition, he is calling for parents of sick children to test them for COVID-19, and he recommends the vaccine be given to eligible youth, 12 and over.

Dr. Sergienko adds, “If the intent is to keep schools going, those are three things we can do.”

He concludes by saying, “I do recognize parents are running up against things like available sick leave, and other challenges. But, there is also the concern of now having multiple classrooms potentially closing, and Summerville High being closed today. It is not just one parent. It is now a whole school worth of parents who are figuring out what to do with their kids. Be mindful of second and third order impacts.”

Board of Supervisors Chair, Ryan Campbell, a parent of three elementary school children, is also weighing in. He says, “It is pretty scary that it is becoming an increasingly common thing that over the past two weeks parents are sending kids to school when they are showing signs of illness.  That is not responsible behavior in a normal situation, but with COVID-19, it is an extremely irresponsible thing.”

In response to the spike in cases, public health indicates that schools may likely soon start taking additional measures for stricter quarantine policies and contact tracing.

A couple of Tuolumne County public schools started up on August 18, and the other schools commenced classes just last week.