Horace Mann Elementary School, a Bakersfield City School District campus on the city's east side, has been shut down because of multiple COVID-19 cases, according to district officials.
The individuals who tested positive on campus were all staff members who did not interact with students, according to deputy superintendent Mark Luque.
Under state guidance, when more than 5 percent of teachers, students and staff at a school site test positive for coronavirus in a 14-day period, the district is advised to notify its county health department, close and return to virtual learning for 14 days.
"Horace Mann has reported to our department that they have exceeded their threshold and would therefore be closing," said Michelle Corson, spokeswoman for the Kern County Public Health Services Department.
Corson said that currently no other schools in the county reported an intent to close Friday — or at any other time since schools began reopening.
Horace Mann brought back two groups of small cohorts this Monday. There were few people on campus, and so it didn't take many cases to trigger a closure, Luque said.
"We didn’t see the positives all at once," Luque said. "They occurred over 14 days, and that’s the protocol."
Students at Horace Mann will return to campus Monday, Nov. 30, after the Thanksgiving break, Luque said.
Under state guidance, school districts are advised to test their entire staff every two months. BCSD began the process of screening its entire staff with Rapid Antigen tests on Nov. 2. Half the staff is tested one month, the other half the next month, according to Terri Lindsey, the director of school health for the district.
BCSD is utilizing its wellness centers to test staff. The purpose is to regularly screen for asymptomatic cases that might escape a temperature check or a daily health screening. It's not for staff members experiencing coronavirus symptoms. They are encouraged to get tested immediately.
Luque said the district follows state protocols not just because it's the law, but because it's the right thing to do to keep students and staff safe.
"We've run into a hiccup with Horace Mann, but we do believe the schools are safe," Luque said.
On Monday, 43 of the 44 school grounds in the district will have at least some students back. All of the students returning will be in small cohorts.
They will return under a plan hatched when the district was still in the most restricted purple tier, and it reflects that: The students returning to schools now are part of vulnerable groups who are most at risk for learning difficulties, such as special education students and homeless and foster youth.