COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at four local schools, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Golden Valley High School, Emblem Academy, Tesoro Del Valle Elementary School and West Creek Academy all were on the Health Department’s list of schools that experienced an outbreak since Aug. 31.
The most severe of these outbreaks was at West Creek, where 15 people, including one staff member, tested positive for COVID-19. Tesoro reported eight people total tested positive, with no staff members testing positive. Emblem reported five total cases, with one staff member testing positive. Golden Valley reported five cases in an adult transitional class where all students were over the age of 18.
When there are more than three cases at a school, nurses are required to report to the Health Department, which then makes a determination as to whether the situation requires it to be listed as an “outbreak.” This was the case for each of the aforementioned schools.
However, Debbie Dunn, communications director for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said in Golden Valley’s case, the Health Department would be closing its outbreak status on Friday if there are no new cases.
Both the Saugus Union School District and the Hart district said they have followed protocols. set by both the districts and the Health Department.
Michelle Barries, assistant superintendent of the Saugus district, said parents were notified.
“I would say based on the overall number of cases in comparison to the total school population, the outbreaks were minimal,” wrote Barries in an email.
A 43% increase of outbreaks in schools countywide this week has also been reported, going up to 33 from 23 last week. An updated vaccine is set to be released ahead of the fall cold and flu season.
The outbreaks come amid a countywide rise in COVID-19 cases. It’s believed that the spike is attributable to summer travel, a return to schools and the emergence of new strains — including the new Omicron XBB EG.5 sub-variants, which account for about 30% of cases in California and over 90% of specimens in L.A. County.
A new vaccine, which is pending approval next week, will be formulated specifically for the XBB strains. XBB is a descendant of Omicron and a new vaccine is designed to offer more protection against XBB and other strains.