In states where Covid cases are rising again, schools are weighing security measures and closures

In states where coronavirus cases are on the rise again, local officials and schools are considering taking extra precautions to limit outbreaks in classrooms, including calling on people to wear masks again and, in some cases, to close.

In Los Angeles County, the number of reported cases among youth sports students, elementary, elementary and high school students “quadrupled between March 27 and April 24,” Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday. county public health director, in a news release. conference. Masking requirements in schools were lifted on March 12th.

“There are now almost as many cases among students and staff as there were in mid-February,” he said.

Ferrer said his office is encouraging schools to demand indoor masks at events where there will be a large number of students and others gathered; testing and examining students for symptoms before and after events; and improve indoor ventilation and transportation.

“We encourage schools, families and students to take steps to reduce the chance of spread at these school events,” he said.

Covid cases have increased in some areas after Easter and spring break. Ferrer said some school events such as dancing and outings have also led to an increase in cases.

“And with so many end-of-year events happening, we will continue to see additional increases unless there is a very big difference in the amount of protection that individuals take,” Ferrer said.

Hospitalizations have also increased in many parts of the country over the past two weeks. However, according to the current masking guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which takes into account available hospital beds and Covid hospitalization rates, most of the country has a medium or low community risk for coronavirus.

In Maine, however, eight schools reported outbreaks last week, with a total of 1,000 cases reported last Thursday, according to the state Department of Education.

One of the schools, Rumford Elementary, was closed for three days this week after 29 students and 16 staff tested positive, school principal Jill Bartash said in a statement on social media on Wednesday. .

In a statement earlier Monday, Bartash said the outbreak was “by far the highest number of sick staff and students” the school has had during the pandemic. The school said that in response, custodians would clean the surfaces, there would be more vigilance on hand washing, masks would be available for children and test kits would be sent home.

Also in Maine, Brooklin School, which has students in pre-K through eighth grade, switched to remote learning this week from Tuesday to Friday after about 30 percent of the school was out on Monday. “With Covid symptoms or Covid protocols,” Mark Hurvitt, interim superintendent of School Union 76, said in a statement.

“I realize this is a real nuisance for everyone, especially because I thought we were out of the woods with Covid, but apparently not!” He said.

Covid school closures have become a divisive issue since the pandemic turned American education upside down, pushing millions of students into a school year of remote learning. Critics of these closures have said students may suffer from mental health issues and learning loss from being out of school.

A study released this month by the Harvard Educational Policy Research Center, using test data from more than 2 million students across the country, found that performance growth was especially low for students attending schools. of high poverty in remote remote districts.

In Connecticut, Enfield Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Drezek apologized when he announced the closure of Henry Barnard School.

“Please understand that this is the last message I wanted to send you because I realize the impact this has on families as well as students,” Drezek said in a statement on his website. ‘school.

Face-to-face classes were canceled at Henry Barnard’s on Thursday and Friday after a “rapid rise in Covid cases” among staff members. Forty of the 75 school staff members were out of school because of the coronavirus, Drezek said in the statement.

“While we have tried to cover the building with staff from other schools, we have reached a point where we simply cannot provide adequate adult supervision to open safely for in-person learning,” he said. to say.

In New Jersey, local media reported that due to an increase in cases, a mask requirement was reinstated at Montclair High School for 10 days from May 4th. And in Pennsylvania, Woodland Hills High School also reinstated a mask requirement until May 13, according to local media.

Last month, about 100 San Mateo High School students in California who attended a high school graduation party tested positive for Covid.

Wearing masks was strongly recommended at the April 9 graduation party, but many students chose not to wear them, a spokesman for the San Mateo Union district told The Associated Press.

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