Delays in COVID home-testing kits ‘unfortunate,’ state schools chief says – Daily News

Delays in the state’s efforts to get 6 million COVID-19 home testing kits to students – preferably before the start of second semester – have been “unfortunate” and “difficult,” California’s top schools chief acknowledged on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

While attributing distribution challenges primarily to delays caused by weather, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond also credited such school districts as Downey, Alhambra, Inglewood and Long Beach, saying that, despite not having received testing kits, some districts have found ways to work with county agencies or local organizations to provide testing nonetheless.

“It’s disappointing that the tests have not reached all of the places that they need to reach,” Thurmond said. “But I want to commend the resilience of those who’ve found ways to work with county health, to work with health clinics and community clinics, like the one that we’re at today, that are providing COVID testing, that are providing access to getting a vaccine or getting a booster” shot.

Thurmond made his remarks during a press conference outside Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, where he met with staff working at an onsite health clinic. He also announced plans to introduce legislation to address learning losses and provide other supports to students still recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of Southern California children resumed in-person classes on Monday, and thousands more will return next week. The Los Angeles Unified School District is now requiring all students and employees to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campuses next week.

In terms of the delays in COVID-19 home testing kits, Thurmond said his department has been in touch with the state Department of Public Health about expediting delivery of the kits and plans to be in L.A. County the rest of this week to help schools distribute free home tests to students, including on Friday when L.A. Unified is set to begin handing out the kits.

L.A. County has received 400,000 to 800,000 of these tests, with possibly up to another 1 million tests on its way, according to the state superintendent.

The goal is to keep schools open, he said, noting that less than 1% of California schools have closed due to coronavirus outbreaks since the start of the school year.

“We intend to keep it that way, but we understand that our schools are up against a lot of pressure,” he said. “We want to do all that we can to get them resources.”

During Wednesday’s news conference, Thurmond also mentioned a workgroup he’s forming to look at how to build up the schools workforce to address statewide staffing shortages. The workgroup will review everything from employee compensation to career pathways and housing for educators.

Additionally, he announced that he’ll be introducing legislation to support student learning and their wellbeing as students continue to recover from the pandemic.

Source link