By Kathy Chouteau
The West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) will begin weekly COVID-19 testing next week and will require staff members to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing, Superintendent Kenneth Chris Hurst announced Wednesday.
The announcement followed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandate the same day requiring all staff—teachers, custodial staff, bus drivers and others—to take the same precautionary steps.
With the WCCUSD’s first day of school slated for Mon., Aug. 16, weekly testing for students and unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated staff members will begin that day, per the superintendent. To allot time for staff members to get vaccinated, the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for them begins Mon., Sept. 7.
“The health and safety of WCCUSD students and staff are our top priorities. We know getting the COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 testing are two essential pieces in slowing the spread of COVID-19,” Superintendent Hurst said in his statement.
As of last spring, 79 percent of WCCUSD staff members said they were fully vaccinated or had their first shot, while 11 percent said they had their first shot scheduled or required help procuring an appointment, according to the superintendent.
“To give parents confidence that their children are safe as schools return to full, in-person learning, we are urging all school staff to get vaccinated. Vaccinations are how we will end this pandemic,” said Governor Newsom in a separate statement. “As a father, I look forward to the start of the school year and seeing all California kids back in the classroom.”
Superintendent Hurst also shared that the district is following strategies suggested by Contra Costa County Health Services and the California Department of Public Health, including: Requiring masks to be worn indoors at all times by students and staff; encouraging all those eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine; improving or upgrading the ventilation in classrooms and buildings as needed; stressing the importance of hand hygiene (handwashing and hand sanitizer); practicing home self-screening (staying home when sick); continuing to practice physical distancing when possible; and limiting visitors on school campuses.
District families can find the WCCUSD’s COVID-19 overview in its Parent/Family Handbook and can also click here for more info including the 100 percent In-Person Instruction plan, said the superintendent. The testing form is here and additional forms for families include the non-insurance and hold harmless—all of which can also be located on the district’s website here or in the Digital Backpack available on each school’s website.