COVID-19 exposure at LAHS during first week of school


Elyssa Kennedy

Some LAHS and Freestyle Academy students were sent emails earlier today notifying them of a close contact exposure to COVID-19 during the first week of school.

Multiple Los Altos High School and Freestyle Academy students received emails instructing them to take “immediate” action in regard to a “close contact” COVID-19 exposure this morning. Students and teachers who received this email were potentially exposed by a student in one of their classes who tested positive for COVID-19 on the first day of school, Wednesday, August 11. 

The Mountain View–Los Altos District was informed of the positive case after the test results came back, and emailed students and teachers who had close contact with the student this morning, although they were unable to say how many students.

The initial email — adapted from a template written by Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Leyla Benson and customized by LAHS Principal Wynne Satterwhite — told those exposed to get tested immediately; however, the testing link provided by the District didn’t provide tests over the weekends, leading many students to book tests elsewhere. The link was included because of a partnership with El Camino. Many students were also unclear on quarantine guidelines, due to a contradiction within the email saying both that students would be at school and that teachers would be aware of those who would be absent. To address student concerns, the District later sent out a clarification. 

“I didn’t know whether I had to call in for an absence on Monday or not and was confused about which COVID test to take,” junior Emilie Ma said. “Also, the process of finding a testing site online wasn’t very efficient and it was hard to find immediate availability.”

Per District guidelines, until students display COVID-19 symptoms or receive a positive COVID-19 test, they are allowed to come to school. Asymptomatic students can continue to come to school, but are not allowed to participate in any in-person extracurriculars such as sports practices and rehearsals. Test results should be self-reported to Benson by texting “COVID” to (925) 788-3038 and filling out this Google form.

Students are also instructed to take a test on the fifth day after transmission, which is Monday, August 16, to ensure accuracy. If the second test comes back negative, they can return to extracurriculars. If either test comes back positive, they have to self-quarantine for 10 days.

The same instructions apply to teachers who have been in contact with the infected student. Teachers who test positive or are symptomatic will be assigned a substitute. 

According to Benson, the District has implemented multiple precautions to limit the spread of the virus, which include mandatory vaccination for teachers, mandatory masking for everyone on campus, the enhanced filtration system and COVID-safe behavior.

Benson further noted that the community has been careful about reporting cases and getting vaccinated.

“We are going to gather a lot of information [in these first few weeks], and our protocols are going to become clearer,” Benson said. “We’re going to see how students are interacting in school. We are hopeful that it will be a safe environment for all students.”

The District is meeting with Santa Clara County once a week to update COVID-19 school safety policies. Benson said that given schools have just begun to return in-person, the guidelines are dynamic and will continue to be adjusted. Benson added that after the meeting this Monday, the District will have more solidified guidelines for COVID-19 procedures, such as reporting cases.

To see the number of COVID-19 cases reported at MVLA, click this dashboard, which displays the cases of those who have been to either school campus. Those who have tested positive but have not been on campus are not displayed.