Marin schools reshuffle staff to cover COVID-19 teacher quarantine

Most Marin schools were hanging hard in classes the first week after the holiday, despite dozens of students and staff at home because of positive COVID-19 infections.

“We are not closing schools, even if we have one school with 20 teachers,” San Rafael City School District superintendent Jim Hogebaum said Thursday. “Our number 1 priority is to keep schools open.”

Hogeboom said the San Rafael district, like others in Marin, is using substitute teachers, principals, administrators and coaches to fill those infected with COVID-19 and stay-at-home teachers. He said that some schools in the district are adding classes due to non-availability of staff.

“We need the kids to be in the classroom,” Hogboom said. “Children learn better in the classroom, and keeping kids at home places an undue burden on parents.”

As of Thursday, a total of 209 students and 23 teachers and staff in the San Rafael district were out at home because of positive COVID-19 test results, according to district spokeswoman Cristina Perino.

Those and other positive cases were part of reports of results from a rapid COVID-19 testing program at Marin’s home last week. Test kits were given to all 47,000 Marin public and private school families and staff members before the holiday break, with instructions to use one of the tests the day before returning to school.

Marin’s public health officer Dr. Matt Willis said as of Thursday, there were 1,341 positive cases out of 37,000 test results reported between December 29 and January 4.

“It’s an important way to make sure infected people don’t enter schools,” Willis said on Thursday. webinar With the Marin School community. “We’re starting on the right foot.”

Willis said keeping schools open is a “top priority” for him and the rest of the county’s public health and education teams.

The results represent a 3.6% positivity rate. This means that in a crowd of 100 people, around three or four persons are infected and may be spreading the virus. For this reason, the county is limiting all school gatherings, indoors and out, to a maximum of 50 people.

Meanwhile, other Marin school districts are also facing staff shortages – including those at the highest levels.

Larkspur-Corte Madera School District superintendent Brett Gethman said he developed mild COVID-19 symptoms on December 28 and tested positive on December 29.

“Having been vaccinated and extended, I was a little surprised that I tested positive,” Gethman said in an email on Thursday. He said he began his isolation period on December 29.

“I tested again on day 7 when new guidance became effective,” he said. The test on Day 7 was still positive.

“Therefore, I have to complete the entire 10-day isolation period before I can return to work,” he said.

Despite its own quarantine, the Larkspur-Corte Madera district is covering the staff shortfall with substitute teachers, including “full-time rowing subs we’ve hired since the beginning of the in-person school,” Geithman he said.

He said 92 students and 17 staff members were absent in the district till Thursday.

“The roving sub strategy has greatly aided our ability to cover absenteeism with highly qualified teachers,” he said.

“In addition, we are fortunate to have a community funded school where we have specialist and support positions that can meet immediate staffing needs,” Geithman said. “I am proud of how our district is tackling these issues by working collaboratively and constructively.”

In the Mill Valley School District, 85 students and four staff members were out as of the first day of school on Monday, said district spokeswoman Anna Russell.

“To ensure proper staffing in our classrooms, we have been able to utilize substitutes, administrators and other certified staff,” Russell said in an email.

District spokeswoman Leslie Benjamin said in the Novato Unified School District, there were 35 staff members and 249 students with COVID-19-related absences.

“This represents about a 3.4% positivity rate,” she said.

Meanwhile, at The Ross Preschool, officials became concerned when they saw 22.5% of their students either isolated or isolated on holiday because of a household COVID-19 exposure, said school head David Allen. – said Hughes. Preschoolers are not eligible for the vaccines, which are given only to children 5 years of age and older.

He said that 22.5% of the students in quarantine were in contrast to the previous experience of preschool.