Credit: Daniel Dreifuss (file)

Starting Monday, January 10, Santa Barbara Unified School District will begin mandatory COVID-19 testing for all staff and students, after 151 students tested positive for COVID this first week back at school.

Additionally, approximately 1,900 students and 250 staff have not returned to school as of Thursday, though it is unclear whether this is due to COVID-related symptoms. 

“At this juncture, we ask that our families make the assumption that your student has been exposed to the virus, and that daily monitoring is necessary,” said Superintendent Hilda Maldonado in a message to parents Thursday. “If your child is showing any symptoms, you must keep them at home. Please do not send them to school.”

Staff and students will be tested on school campuses using nasal swab antigen tests that provide rapid results, and testing should take a few days to fully complete. All students who have consented to testing will be screened, and parents of students who have not consented to testing will need to provide a negative test result. Students who opt out of testing altogether will have the option to do a short-term independent study.

All extra-curricular activities are suspended until further notice, including field trips, performances, and athletic competitions for indoor and outdoor sports. This will be assessed on a weekly basis. Masks will also be mandatory for indoors and outdoors. 

Testing outside of school is also available at Earl Warren Showgrounds from Aptitude Clinical, and is free to all district staff and students. Students who have been exposed may return to campus after six days if they have a negative test result and are fever-free for 24 hours. Without a recent negative test result, students exposed may return after 11 days if they are fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms have improved. 

CORRECTION: This story and its headline were updated to clarify that the district’s mandatory screening will consist of a nasal swab antigen test.

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