500 test positive in Sac City Unified after thousands of COVID tests given during break

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Roughly 500 students and staff tested positive for COVID-19 during the winter break, according to Sacramento City Unified School District officials Monday.

The district received about 38,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 test kits in December from the California Department of Public Health. The kits were distributed to thousands of students and staff before the winter break in the hopes of facilitating a safe return to school in January, said Al Goldberg, a district spokesman.

School officials asked families who used the tests to upload results through the district’s Primary Health portal. Nearly 20,000 test results were reported to the district as of Monday and, of those results, about 500 were positive, Goldberg said. That’s roughly 1 in 40 testing positive.

“That was huge for us,” Goldberg said.

Each kit contained two tests, and district officials recommended families use the test one day and three days before Monday’s return to instruction, though some of those test results reported may have been from earlier in the winter break.

Since the district gave out test kits on the Thursday and Friday before winter break, not all 38,000 kits were distributed. Some families took children out of school early to accommodate holiday plans, or because of social media hoaxes about potential school shootings circulating online last month.

In addition, the district had hoped to be able to send kits to all students and staff, but it received fewer kits from the state than expected. Distribution priority was focused on younger students ineligible to get the vaccine, the district said.

Testing was not required to return to the classroom, but highly recommended by district officials, who hope to avoid large outbreaks as the omicron variant rages throughout the county.

Sacramento County’s case rate for COVID-19 is now the highest its ever been during the pandemic, nearly tripling in one week. The county’s latest seven-day case rate is 72 per 100,000, soaring well past the previous record of 64 set in December 2020.

The roughly 500 students and staff who tested positive are now in quarantine, Goldberg said.

The district continues to offer free weekday COVID-19 screening for all students and staff at School Site Care Rooms during school hours, at Serna Center from noon to 3:30 p.m., and at Albert Einstein Middle School from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Surveillance testing also resumed on Monday; students and staff not fully vaccinated will be required to undergo regular testing starting Jan. 31.