Special needs class at Del Amigo High closes after 8 test positive for COVID

Del Amigo High School has closed one of its classrooms after a majority of staff and students tested positive for COVID-19, one week after the campus reopened for in-person learning.

According to San Ramon Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Malloy, five staff members and three out of four students in a special needs classroom tested positive for the virus. The class serves students with developmental disabilities ranging in age from 18-22.

“Everyone in that particular classroom is at home and the students who are able could work remotely,” Malloy said. “After 14 days, students may return to campus.”

Malloy said a student showed up sick to school on Nov. 17, the same day the campus reopened, and the student was later sent home outside of district protocols. The protocols call for a student with COVID symptoms to be sent to a special place in the school office where staff has access to a nurse. The nurse will help determine if parents must pick up their children in 30 minutes. Malloy admits that did not happen.

“It is a very unfortunate circumstance,” he said. “We are very sorry for it. We are going to support our staff to ensure our protocols are followed.”

Malloy said although there was safety training before the Nov. 17 reopening, the district has looked at and strengthened practices, and communicated with staff about what is expected. All staffers and students must wear masks, unless they are exempt with medical documentation. In those rare cases, staff members will receive extra personal protective equipment and the student will be physically distant from other people.

If someone does test positive on a school campus, the district will first determine exposure. If a certain number of students or staff are exposed, the classroom may close. If several classrooms have been exposed, the campus may close.

In this case, because the exposure was limited to one classroom of students and staff, Malloy said the Del Amigo campus will remain open.

“One of the things that we've learned is that we must follow our protocols that are informed by public health,” Malloy said.

SRVUSD is in the middle of a three-phase reopening plan. A first set of schools opened for in-person learning on Oct. 27. A second phase of schools reopened on Nov. 17. The district is preparing for the phase three reopening of schools on Jan. 5, unless given different directions from Contra Costa Health Services.

“We do believe as long as we mask, as long as we physically remain distant and as long as we use sanitization, sanitizing our hands in particular, we will be ok,” he added. “We cannot control the virus, but we can utilize protocols and processes to mitigate risk and that is something this circumstance has taught us.”

Parents can always choose to have their children learn remotely for the rest of the school year.