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Students offered home COVID test kits
• CUSD had enough for all students
COVID test kit kid
Students are able to test for COVID thanks to the distribution of home testing kits.

Ceres Unified School District distributed at-home COVID test kits to students before winter vacation, which ended on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

“We had enough for every student,” said CUSD Communications Specialist Beth Jimenez. “They were provided for the convenience of families who wished to test their children prior to them returning to school from winter break. However, there was no requirement to test so we have no data on how many families chose to utilize that resource.”

The 2021-22 academic year got underway in August with COVID-prevention measures in place.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance released on July 9 removed the requirement for social distancing at K-12 schools but requires adults and students to wear face masks while inside classrooms and school buildings.

Frequent and thorough handwashing is strongly encouraged throughout the day. Hand sanitizer will be available in all classrooms, offices, and common areas for students and staff to use.

Face coverings aren’t required for students exempt due to medical conditions as specified in a medical doctor’s note.

“We anticipate that this guidance will remain in effect as the school year begins; however, the past year has shown that guidance can change unexpectedly to meet evolving conditions,” said CUSD Supt. Denise Wickham. “We will continue to monitor developments and meet regularly with local public health officials and area superintendents in order to make sound decisions based on the latest information. To provide families with flexibility, an independent study option will be available. Please check ParentSquare for updates and additional information as the school year approaches.”

On Aug. 11, the California Department of Public Health issued a new public health order requiring all school staff to either show proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week.

The new policy for school staff took effect on Aug. 12, and schools had to be in full compliance by Oct. 15. Robust and free testing resources were made available to K-12 schools through the CA K-12 schools testing program.

CUSD resumed in-person learning after nearly a year of distance and hybrid learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.

When asked what COVID-19 safety plan the district had in place in response to the omicron variant, Jimenez said: “It’s been our approach throughout the pandemic to follow Public Health guidance. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”

CUSD reported 18 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 for students the week of Dec. 6-10, which was down from 39 from the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 3.

The district had 10 students test positive for coronavirus the week of Nov. 22-24.

“Our plan is to continue to provide in-person instruction unless the guidance changes to prohibit that,” Jimenez said.

In partnership with Heal 360 Primary Care, CUSD offers free drive-thru rapid COVID testing at all 13 of its school sites.

The district has also partnered with Golden Valley Health Centers to provide free COVID vaccines and boosters at Argus High School.

“We put up-to-date information on our community page so our stakeholders can find where they can go to access those resources,” said Jimenez.