Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

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By Jack Simon
Observer Staff Writer 

SMMUSD Wants Students to Take Antigen Tests Before Returning to School

No masks required in schools this year but they are ‘strongly recommended indoors’ by district officials

 

August 17, 2022

Officials from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School are urging students this week to take antigen tests prior to the start of the new school year to “ensure everyone is Covid-19 free upon their return.”

SMMUSD Supt. Ben Drati also mentioned that students will not be required to wear masks when they return to school next Thursday, August 18, but they might be asked to take part in voluntary weekly antigen testing program.

In a back-to-school letter to parents that also focused on health and safety protocols, Drati said SMMUSD is following the recommendations of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) so that the local schools can function as normally as possible.

“We would like all students and staff to help protect themselves while also caring about others,” said Drati. “This is what a successful high-functioning, cooperative society looks like. We are requesting that an antigen test be taken prior to school confirming a negative result. A positive test requires at- home isolation and reporting to your school site. Your school site will provide instructions on picking up your antigen kit prior to the start of school.”

Drati also mentioned that SMMUSD is “learning toward voluntary weekly antigen testing” program conducted at home with any positive results reported to schools. Last year, the weekly PCR tests were mandatory, conducted mostly on campuses.

“This will be the honor system and we are trusting our families and staff to do the right thing for the benefit of the broader school community,” said Drati. “We would like to see high participation with this program.

In the August 5 letter, the superintendent stated he strongly recommends mask-wearing indoors even though masking is voluntary in schools and added that the District is still requiring staff to be vaccinated.

“We are reviewing LACDPH recommended protocols regarding masking when exposed to a positive case in classrooms and quarantining while still attending school if asymptomatic and will have follow up information in my next communication on this aspect of masking,” he said.

Concluding his letter, Drati said, “the greatest deterrent to the spread of illness is for students and staff to stay home when sick. Testing kits will be available at every school site for home testing to rule out Covid-19. Students or staff members who test positive may not attend school or come to work. We can prevent the spread of illness when everyone does their part and stays home when sick.”

 

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