Dear Families of Santa Cruz County,
Thank you for your resilience and unwavering dedication to the success of our students during a time of continued challenge and uncertainty. Despite high rates of COVID-19 transmission in our wider community, we have yet to close a single classroom across Santa Cruz County this fall — a sign of success for which all students, parents, and staff members share credit.
Public health officials are sharing more optimistic news about the course of COVID-19 within our wider community. The reproductive rate of the disease (i.e, the R-Naught) has fallen below 1, meaning case numbers are trending downward within the community. This is a promising sign that we may be on the descent from delta-variant driven surge. While this news buoys our spirits, it must not cause us to lower our vigilance.
As we have previously shared, the availability of COVID-19 tests for the entire school community has significantly expanded in recent weeks — and more is yet to come. This is possible through close collaboration between all of our districts and a key partnership with Inspire Diagnostics, the private provider we are working with to perform the testing. Here is the latest on the status of our major testing initiatives:
- Weekly on-site PCR testing: Most schools in our county will be offering PCR testing on-site to all students who opt-in in accordance with guidance from the California Department of Public Health. In cases where students may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the testing is offered twice weekly. In the weeks ahead, we are working to expand on-site testing to the overwhelming majority of public, private and charter schools countywide. We have created a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document to provide more clarity about the program.
- Drive-through PCR testing: Two outdoor drive-through PCR testing sites are now open to the entire school community. These sites are available for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, and most test results are returned within 24-hours — comparatively, faster than most alternatives. The first site is located at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Parking Lot K, from 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. The second location is at PVUSD District Office parking lot, available from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. Students and their families, and staff and their families are welcome to utilize this free service. Those needing a test simply need to fill out the registration one time at http://sccoe.link/inspiresc and go to either site. No appointment is required. For more information, please go to https://covid19test.santacruzcoe.org/overview
- Rapid-response antigen testing: Hundreds of school staff from across the county have been trained to administer rapid-response antigen testing to provide an additional layer of surveillance in cases of on-campus exposure.
- Student vaccine clinics: Additional student vaccine clinics are scheduled 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, at San Lorenzo Valley Elementary School and Pajaro Valley High School. Pre-registration and consent can be completed at sccoe.link/studentvax. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Understandably, many families have questions about the various testing initiatives, and we have attached a FAQ document addressing most common questions. A virtual town hall meeting took place yesterday evening, during which questions were answered and further updates on our COVID-19 response were shared. A recording of the town hall will be made available on the COE YouTube channel for those unable to attend, and we anticipate hosting additional town halls in the weeks ahead.
The level of inter-district coordination involved in these initiatives is difficult to overstate, and we understand to be unusual in our state, even under the current circumstances. Inspire Diagnostics, our primary testing partner, has our gratitude for enabling this level of testing in our schools. And above all else, our persistent focus on increasing testing capacity across Santa Cruz County reflects our foundational commitment: ensuring our students are healthy, and our classrooms are open.
Yours in education and equity,
Santa Cruz County Superintendents