Since students returned to campus in small cohorts in the Fall, there has been no spread of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 on the campus of Santa Barbara High School. This was a statistic confirmed by princi- pal Dr. Elise Simmons. Overall there have been twenty cases of Santa Bar- bara High School faculty and stu- dents who have at some point been on campus since summer testing positive. 12 of these were students and eight were faculty. Through the school’s contact tracing program which is run by the school nurse, however, the school has been able to confirm that none of these cases were a result of spread on campus.
Overall in the school district, of students who have been on campus in small cohorts, there have been 81 staff and 27 student cases with nine being spread on campus. All nine of these cases were found in staff and were a result of a failure to completely follow Covid safety protocols. These staff members were found to be in “close contact” with others on campus who later tested positive. The CDC’s guidelines define close contact as “Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” These are the conditions in which the coronavirus tends to be able to spread from person to person even with masking. Santa Barbara High School has also had but after quarantining for ten days, they were found to have no symptoms and determined to have not contracted the coronavirus.
The “Swiss Cheese” model of Covid-19 prevention which involves layers of precautions to create a safe school campus has proved to be effective. Most notably are masks and physical distancing which are required on campus as well as the daily completion of the CrisisGo form confirming that a student has not had contacts outside of their household, travelled outside of the area, or had symptoms. The lack of transmission on SBHS property despite the high number of cases proves the effectiveness of this model and the underlying facts of the CDC’s new guidelines. These guidelines say that even with moderate levels of community coronavirus transmission, schools can reopen safely as long as these precautions are taken.
The lack of spread of the coronavirus on Santa Barbara High School’s campus is a promising piece of data as secondary schools look at reopen- ing for hybrid instruction. However, even the few instances of on-campus spread there have been in SB Unified raise serious questions about campus safety. As Dr. Simmons said “if you have a close contact with someone, that means that you aren’t properly following the procedures.” With SB Unified employees not always adhering to the guidelines, what are the expectations for students’ compliance when they return to campus in large numbers? In Dr. Simmons’ judgment, however, students will follow the procedure and be careful enough to make that return well worth it.