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MPUSD, SUHSD begin first day of in-person instruction with COVID modifications

MPUSD, SUHSD begin first day of in-person instruction with COVID modifications
MPUSD, SUHSD begin first day of in-person instruction with COVID modifications

SEASIDE, Calif. (KION) It is the first day of school for thousands of students across the Central Coast.

KION was able to get a glimpse into how things went in the classroom, including how school administrators are planning to prevent any COVID-19 outbreaks on campus. We also learned about new rules regarding "modified quarantine" for unvaccinated students.

Modified quarantine, in part, means unvaccinated students who are wearing masks but were exposed to a positive COVID-19 case can actually still attend class in person. But only if they meet certain thresholds.

"I feel very happy because I haven't been in school very long and I'm very excited to see all my friends and I'm very happy with school, even though it's very different from what I expected," said Ashley, a fourth-grader at Marina Vista Elementary School in Marina.

The main pandemic rollover you will see in the classroom: masks. Everyone has to wear them inside. Students do not have to sit apart, but there is plenty of hand sanitizer to go around.

It is the same case at North Salinas High School. Hallways were packed full of students going to and fro, with health experts saying masks are effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19 at schools.

"We're so used to the masking and the washing of hands and the hygiene that that's natural. So it's all about getting in the classrooms, getting engaged. The teachers are really excited, they're really prepared. It's an enthusiasm that I don't think we had pre-COVID because we didn't know what we were missing," said Dr. Mary White, the principal at North Salinas High.

"It's amazing that we have them here in class because you just get to make a different connection with them when they're in front of you," said Tina Espinoza, a Spanish teacher at North High. "You get to see who they are and what they're about."

Per state and CDC guidelines for back to school, if an unvaccinated, but masked, student gets exposed to COVID-19 through close contact, meaning more than 15 minutes within six feet, he or she can go through a "modified 10-day quarantine" and keep attending school in person. But they have to be asymptomatic, keep wearing masks and undergo at least two COVID-19 tests per week.

"The district has been really good about thorough and strategic planning around COVID. Our sites have COVID administrators, we have COVID liaisons, all of us are well-versed on how to deal with any rise," said Dr. White.

At the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, they have the opportunity to do rapid testing on-site with parental consent.

"The rapid testing is a huge plus for us to make sure we're supporting those families who are concerned or who might have a question about what is in place to support students who might contract COVID," said Dr. Manny Nuñez, the assistant superintendent of human resources at MPUSD.

Parents there seem reassured.

"I do feel confident. They're safe, they talked about the nurses, they have rapid COVID tests they can perform. So I feel pretty safe here, yeah," said Amelia Dahl, a Marina parent.

For those unvaccinated students under modified quarantine, they can stop after Day 10 from the date of the last exposure without testing or if they test negative after Day 5.

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION) California's new COVID-19 guidance includes guidance for a "modified quarantine" to allow students to continue with in-person education, even if they are exposed to COVID-19.

The modified quarantine applies to asymptomatic, unvaccinated students who have been exposed. During a modified quarantine, they can continue in-person education, but may not participate in extracurricular activities.

The students will still be required to wear masks but may continue to use school buses and eat meals on campus.

Wednesday is the first day of school for MPUSD and SUSD, and MPUSD staff said they have rapid COVID-19 testing for students, but they need to ask for permission from parents before doing testing.

Watch Josh Kristianto's report tonight at 5 and 6 p.m. on KION.

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Josh Kristianto

Josh Kristianto is a weekend anchor and multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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