Thirty-eight students and 14 staff in the Santa Barbara Unified School District have tested positive for COVID-19 so far this year, with elementary school students making up about 30 percent of the total cases.
Assistant Superintendent Frann Wageneck said elementary schools have a higher rate of COVID-19 partially due to the kids being too young for vaccination.
Although a national shortage of COVID-19 tests have delayed plans to begin testing all students, the district was able to begin testing elementary school students on Monday. By Tuesday, 129 students had been tested with one positive case.
Consent is required for testing on students, and out of about 3,300 students, 64 percent of students’ families have given consent, with 36 percent yet to respond.
For employees, 86 percent, about 1,400 employees, have been fully vaccinated, and 4 percent, about 70 employees, have no desire to receive the vaccine. The district is still waiting to hear back from 134 employees. Wageneck said it is the responsibility of these employees’ supervisors to remind them to get tested weekly while they are unvaccinated.
Starting next week, vaccine clinics will be set up at Santa Barbara and Dos Pueblos High School, as well as La Cumbre, Santa Barbara, and Goleta Valley Junior High. The district is also working with Cottage Hospital to create a “GET VAX’d” campaign, which would include a student TikTok competition.
Santa Barbara Board of Education Member Laura Capps asked Wageneck if any children from the district have been hospitalized this year.
“None of the principals have reported to me any hospitalizations of our students,” Wageneck said.
Capps said this was something that needed to be watched closely, and the greatest priority of the board is to keep children safe while allowing them back to school.
“We really have to be as militant and protective of these children as possible,” Capps said.