An entire Belle Haven School third grade class was quarantined for two weeks
after four of its students tested positive for COVID-19. The district credits testing for catching the cases, all of which were asymptomatic, at the Menlo Park school during the week of Aug. 28, said Ravenswood City School District Superintendent Gina Sudaria in a Friday email.
The class of 16 students returned to the K-8 campus on Sept. 13 and no adults in the class tested positive, she noted. The school offers weekly testing on Thursdays at Belle Haven.
"County gave direction to quarantine the class: There are no clear cutoffs for when to close a classroom to quarantine at home but the contact tracer was able to get in touch with the nurse who said to close the room. So we believe it was out of an abundance of caution," she said. "This class that needed to quarantine back in August was provided 1:1 laptops, hotspots, reading and instructional materials. So no instruction was missed when distance learning commenced the very next day."
Aside from those four students, three others on campus tested positive for COVID-19 that week, according to the district. There were four other cases throughout the district that week, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard. Out of 17 cases districtwide that week, two were adults.
Third graders are typically under 12 years old and ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccines, so the cases were not "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19, which are infections that occur in some vaccinated people.
Last school year, district students who tested positive for COVID-19 needed to quarantine at home for two weeks, as would their classmates. This year's county Office of Education guidelines upend that protocol with a less restrictive policy.
If a student tests positive for the virus, the school nurse will work with the student's family to identify close contacts — interactions within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes with someone who is positive for COVID-19. The isolation period for a positive case is 10 days from symptom onset or test date, if asymptomatic.
The San Mateo County health department asks for entire classes to be quarantined on "occasion if they find it warranted (e.g., not clear about close contacts)," said Patricia Love, county Office of Education executive director of strategy and communications.
The county health department doesn't "comment on individual schools/districts," said Preston Merchant, the department's communications officer, in a Monday, Sept. 27, email in response to The Almanac's question of whether other districts have had to keep a whole class home to quarantine so far, or if the quarantine at Belle Haven was a rare occurrence.