Interim Superintendent Addresses Spike In COVID-19 Cases Among Students And Staff At Los Alamos Public Schools

LAPS Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy

Staff Report

Los Alamos Public Schools Interim Superintendent Jennifer Guy issued the following letter this morning to the community addressing the recent spike in COVID-19 cases among students and staff:

Los Alamos Community, 

Over the past several days, Los Alamos Public Schools has seen a large increase in COVID-19 positive results among students and staff. The total number of children and staff that have tested positive is 29 as of Oct. 7. This is a troubling and dangerous trend. 

Accordingly, we have taken the following steps to mitigate and reduce the spread of cases at two elementary schools where positive cases have been recorded this week.

At Barranca Elementary:

  1. a) As the total number of positive cases has reached a threshold level of 5% of the school community at Barranca, effective immediately, all learning at Barranca has moved to remote learning until October 18th. Parents were notified by email yesterday, even as we continue to notify and contact trace all positive cases and close contacts. We wanted to allow parents time to arrange to be at home, or make other arrangements, to quarantine and isolate children who have tested positive or have had close contact with infected students.
  2. b) Parents have been advised today where to pick up learning materials for their children for the remote learning period so that teaching and lessons may continue remotely.
  3. c) Contact tracing and testing for all students who have tested positive or have been in close contact with a student or staff who have tested positive continues, so that COVID-19 status for all such students may be accurately ascertained before students and staff return to in person learning.
  4. d) It is recommended that parents contact the Barranca Principal’s office or school nurse at 663-2729 if they believe their child(ren) may have been in close contact outside school hours with a student who has tested positive. If there is any doubt or concern about potential exposure, we recommend the entire family be tested.

At Chamisa Elementary: 

  1. a) Effective immediately, one preschool class and one kindergarten class were moved into remote instruction until October 12th. Parents were notified on October 6th about the classroom closures. 
  2. b) Parents have been advised on where to pick up learning materials for the children during the remote learning period so that teaching and lessons may continue remotely.
  3. c) Contact tracing and testing for all students who were in close contact continues. No siblings, or close contacts, outside of these two classrooms were identified. 
  4. d) It is recommended that parents contact the Chamisa Principal’s office or school nurse at 663-2470 if they believe their child(ren) may have been in close contact outside school hours with a student who has tested positive. If there is any doubt or concern about potential exposure, we recommend the entire family be tested.  

Because the situation in these schools can happen at other schools in the system and to ensure we are doing all that we can to mitigate exposure and risk in our schools, we are taking the following steps district wide:

  • All school staff will be re-trained on COVID safety protocols and procedures outlined in the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) Toolkit for safe operation of schools.
  • A comprehensive review and re-evaluation of all school activities and large gatherings will take place.  Any school activities that pose a serious risk will be delayed or cancelled in the interest of students, staff, and public safety.
  • LAPS is working with the NMPED on participation in early roll-out of voluntary surveillance testing, which acts as an early warning system for potential future waves of infection.
  • LAPS administration is implementing new and more comprehensive reporting of positive cases and will provide daily public updates of available information.

The LAPS School Board, administrators, and staff at every school site are committed to the health and safety of our students. This current outbreak shows that we must continue to be vigilant and proactive in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks. We are hopeful the current outbreak does not result in serious health consequences. Our best assurance to avoid that is to prevent infections from occurring. 

LAPS and our staff ask your help in keeping children safe by doing the following: 

  • Adhere to mandates and guidelines adopted by the NM Departments of Health and Public Education and help your children to do the same.
  • If your child or someone in your household is sick, or has been exposed to COVID-19, keep everyone at home and get tested.
  • Report positive cases in your home to your school nurse to help with contact tracing and limit further spread.

Working together, we can help keep our children and our community safe and our schools open. We appreciate your help. 

Sincerely,
Jennifer Guy
Interim Superintendent
Los Alamos Public Schools

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