Los Alamitos High School will be shifting back to online learning for a month after a recent surge in Coronavirus cases in the state.

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The district Superintendent Andrew Pulver announced on Monday that the high school would transition back to distance learning on Wednesday until Jan. 16. 

Middle and elementary schools in the district will remain open.

“The numbers of COVID-19 cases and individuals required to quarantine at these grade levels are lower, and the benefits of maintaining in-person instruction are substantial,” reads an update from Pulver posted Monday.

Extracurricular activities like athletics will be suspended districtwide starting winter break through Jan. 19 to reduce contact with different cohorts of students.

Cases at the high school have been on the rise the days leading up to closure and raised concerns from parents on social media.

Last week the district dashboard showed the school had 23 cases. On Thursday the school had 27 cases. As of Monday there were 37 cases which is over 1% of the school site.

“We have seen a substantial increase in the number of people who must enter quarantine because of close contact with affected individuals,” the update reads.

Under the state requirements, a school will only have to shut down in person instruction if 5% of its population has the virus in a two week period.

Winter break starts next week for Los Alamitos High School students and classes will resume on Jan. 4, according to the school calendar.

The California Department of Public Health and Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency, has said the recent surge of cases and the new stay at home order that accompanied them was not due to school reopenings or cases connected to schools.

Pulver was unavailable for comment but told the Voice of OC last week “that you could probably argue that schools are one of the safest places with all the precautions that we have.”

Not everyone agrees.

Last week leaders from 19 different teacher associations in Orange County signed on to a letter urging all schools to return to online classrooms until infection rates recede.

Since multiple districts have opened for in person learning, teachers have raised concerns about the cleanliness of classrooms and common areas, students not following safety measures, and the district’s dashboard for reporting cases

School districts in Orange County do not require students to be tested for the virus, even if they have been exposed in the classroom, but ask them to stay home for up to two weeks following exposure. 

It is up to the family to decide if the student will be tested.

Dr. Clayton Chau, the Director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, said his agency doesn’t have the jurisdiction to require testing last week at a new conference.

“Anything that is not fully approved by the FDA, you cannot require,” Chau said.

Los Alamitos Unified School district Board of Education will hold a meeting today at 4:45 p.m. today.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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