New data available on the Turlock Unified School District website is allowing the community to keep tabs on COVID-19 positive cases at their child’s school.
The district’s COVID-19 Dashboard was launched on Jan. 8 and provides information from each school, including current COVID-19 cases among students and staff as well as TUSD’s current positivity rate. According to the district, the dashboard was created in an effort to continue their ongoing efforts of transparency and to provide a community resource for understanding any potential closures.
The dashboard is updated every Friday and displays data from the past 14 days. As of the most recent update on Friday afternoon, there are 17 COVID cases districtwide — 14 staff and three students. The numbers represent an increase of 14 from the week prior, when there were just three cases across the district.
Still, TUSD’s positivity rate sits at just .3% compared to Stanislaus County’s most-recent positivity rate of 16.6%. TUSD Chief Communication Coordinator Marie Russell acknowledged that the Centers for Disease Control estimates 50% of COVID infections are spread by people who don’t show symptoms, and added that the district has emphasized the importance of testing.
“As more and more research has shown, schools, particularly elementary, have not been the ‘super spreaders’ that some feared at the beginning of the pandemic. TUSD’s ‘Safe Schools Reopening Plan’ includes a number of mitigation strategies that we believe have been critical in keeping our positivity rate low: masking, physical distancing, stable groups, ventilation, hand hygiene, symptom screening, surveillance and screening testing,” Russell said.
While TUSD closed three elementary campuses prior to winter break, they are once again reopened and were each the result of one positive case with multiple close contacts, rather than multiple positive cases in multiple classrooms.
Individual school closures may occur when there are multiple cases in multiple cohorts at a school, or when at least 5% of the total number of teachers/student/ staff have cases within a 14-day period. The school district would close if 25% or more of schools in a district have closed due to COVID-19 within 14 days, and in consultation with the local public health officer.
“Similar to information shared by the State, our experience with COVID-19 is that children get it less often than adults and most transmission in schools is adult to adult,” Russell said. “Most COVID-19 cases continue to originate from off-campus activities such as social and family gatherings.”
TUSD’s COVID-19 Dashboard can be viewed by visiting https://www.turlock.k12.ca.us/COVID-19 and clicking on “COVID-19 Dashboard” on the left-hand side of the screen. Cases displayed do not represent community-related cases for individuals who have not come onto campus or within close contact of other students and staff, but do account for confirmed cases who have done so during their infectious period.
Close contact is defined by TUSD as any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, cumulative, starting from two days before illness onset, or two days prior to a positive specimen collection for asymptomatic patients.
TUSD is also providing information about vaccines on their website at https://www.turlock.k12.ca.us/vaccine. Healthcare workers within TUSD have already received the green light to receive the vaccine as part of Phase 1A, the district is working with Stanislaus County Health Services Agency’s Public Health Department to host a “closed POD” vaccination opportunity for staff in Phase 1B.