SPUSD Reports 92.5% Attendance as Classes Resume

First published in the Jan. 21 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

The South Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education recently notified the community that the vast majority of students returned to class last week, though at least 169 pupils and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.
The board reported a 92.5% average weekly districtwide attendance rate at the end of last week, with 1,341 PCR tests administered — resulting in a 1.3% positivity rate from those tests — and 9,350 at-home tests distributed. The student and employee COVID-19 positivity rate during that week was 2.3%.
Both positivity rates were far below that of Los Angeles County, which last week reported average rates exceeding 20%. SPUSD’s first-week attendance rate was similar to that reported in neighboring San Marino, whose school district noted a 92% rate.
From the beginning of the academic year on Jan. 10 through Wednesday, the district has reported 183 student and staff COVID-19 cases, according to the SPUSD coronavirus dashboard. The district hosts about 4,660 students and 425 staff members at its locations every day. Most of those positive test results were from South Pasadena High School and South Pasadena Middle School, which reported 60 and 57 cases, respectively.
The SPUSD reported just 12 districtwide cases in November and 53 in December.
All SPUSD employees on district property are fully vaccinated, the district said, with 90% of SPHS students — including 72.5% of students aged 5-11 — also fully vaccinated.
Classrooms and offices are equipped with 310 portable air purifiers, 500 MERV 13 hospital-grade filters and 350 hand sanitizing stations across campuses. Additionally, approximately 30,000 masks have been distributed to employees and students.
“At the end of the first week after our return to school, we are grateful for your continued diligence and support of our students, teachers and staff who work so hard every day,” said SPUSD President Zahir Robb in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to try and put obstacles in our path, but by working together as a community, we are optimistic about what we can and will achieve.”
Although case numbers are anticipated to increase in the coming weeks, Robb said that SPUSD’s case rate is “extraordinarily low.”
“Our district follows the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 guidelines, which may change as the virus changes, new research emerges, new prevention measures are developed and new medical breakthroughs are made,” Robb said. “This may lead to some confusion, but please know that our top priority is always the health and safety of our students and everyone who is part of our district community.”
She urged those who can get vaccinated to do so, and asked parents to not send children to school who are sick, test positive for COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus.
“We are part of a community of supportive parents, outstanding educators and the most amazing students,” Robb said. “Let’s continue to stay connected and work together.”