Mammoth Times

Covid outbreak triggers temporary MUSD school closures

About 82 percent of secondary students, staff quarantine­s; elementary school stays open

- By Wendilyn Grasseschi Times Reporter

Mammoth Unified School District High School and Middle School closed their doors for two weeks and went to distancele­arning-only starting Monday, Sept. 20 due to a high number of Covid-19 positive test cases and the resulting mandated quarantine­s, said Superinten­dent Jennifer Wildman.

The Elementary School will remain open at this time, Wildman said, because the positive cases in the school and the quarantine numbers were still able to managed by staff.

Students will still be required to attend classes and teachers to teach for the two weeks; however all classes will be held via distance learning.

The numbers are startling.

About 488 people or 82 percent of middle and high school students and staff have been exposed to Covid-19 in the last week, Wildman said – and that was before a large cache of outstandin­g test results are returned, hopefully in the next day or so (and after the went to press Wednesday afternoon).

“This means staffing shortages and potential shortages are making it difficult to staff the schools safely,” she said. “There are 181 Covid test results pending from staff and students on Monday. There are over 400 pending test results in Mono County right now, with a current case positivity rate of over 33 percent here in the county.”

That said, the two-week closure might not be a hard closure for all students and staff. On Monday, the school district and Mono County Public Health asked for a state ‘outbreak team’ to come to the county to do two ‘test to return’ clinics for all staff and students. The team was scheduled to be in Mammoth starting Wednesday to do rapid testing that would allow students and staff who test negative to return to the classroom as soon as next week, Wildman said. Those who test positive will continue to quarantine.

The clinics were scheduled for Wednesday for all Middle School students and staff and Thursday for all High School staff and students, she said.

Mono County Public Health agreed that a closure of the two

schools was needed and issued a formal ‘Health Order,’ according to the county health department. Dr. Richard O. Johnson, acting Public Health officer for Mono County (Dr. Thomas Boo retired from the position earlier this spring and there has been no permanent health officer hired yet), issued the order requiring the closure of in-person instructio­n at Mammoth Middle School and Mammoth High School on Monday. The order is set to expire Sunday, Oct. 3, at 11:59 p.m. Mammoth Middle School and Mammoth High School shall reopen for in-person instructio­n on Monday, Oct. 4, the order states.

At press time, no one from the district was in the hospital due to Covid-19 but there were a significan­t number of staff and students who were sick and/or symptomati­c, including a significan­t number of vaccinated students and staff, Wildman said.

The outbreak occurred due to a kind of a “perfect storm” Wildman said.

“On (last) Friday morning (Sept.17), we received news that there were 21 positive cases from our Monday (Sept. 13) testing clinic,” she wrote in a letter to parents late last week, explaining the situation. “Several of those cases significan­tly affected our district, especially at Mammoth Middle School and High School. Through a glitch, the clinic test results were not received until early Friday morning, meaning that the positive cases had caused repeated and ongoing exposure to students and staff over the past week.

 ?? Image submited by MUSD ?? This graph, shared with MUSD parents and staff on Sept. 21, shows the extent of the outbreak.
Image submited by MUSD This graph, shared with MUSD parents and staff on Sept. 21, shows the extent of the outbreak.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States