TUSD has new guidelines for schools and COVID

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Unified School District has changed its student protocols as the omicron variant wreaks havoc on the school system.

Students who are fully vaxxed, including the booster, no longer have to isolate even if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Those who test positive and have symptoms, can return to school after five days even if they feel a little sick, like a sore throat but no fever.

“I do think if your child is still not feeling well, the symptoms are not improving, that is a clear sign you need to keep your child at home regardless of whether they have COVID or not,” said Adelita Grijalva, the President of the TUSD board.

The school district is now in compliance with CDC guidelines but even those are very confusing. TUSD will send out the new guidelines to parents next week.

“The guidelines continue to change and that’s what I think is frustrating,” Grijalva said. “But it’s also beneficial, its based on what we’re seeing in the community as it relates to where we are right now.”

What the district is also seeing is a shortage of teachers as many call in sick or have concerns about the omicron variant.

“We don’t have replacements ‚we don’t have subs for our teachers,” she said. “And subs were an issue before but more so now.”

On a typical Monday a typical school may see seven teachers absent but now it’s 19 or so meaning some classrooms are struggling to find warm bodies to fill that role.

“There comes a point where you have a critical staffing shortage,” Grijalva said. “So Dr. Trujillo (the district superintendent) is asking all the central leadership and anyone who has a certification to go out to the schools and sub.”

At issue as well is how to fight the fact that so many cases have appeared so quickly.

“We are up to almost a thousand cases now per day,” said Kat Davis, the school liaison for the Pima County Heath Department. “So it’s gone up exponentially from what we were seeing a week ago.”

And with numbers going up rapidly the health department is urging wearing masks, get vaccinated, distance and stay home when sick.

But another issue is some districts are more compliant about those mitigation strategies than others.

“Districts who are enforcing more mitigation measures in their schools do seem to be faring better than those districts who are not enforcing these mitigation measures,” Davis said.

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