Publisher’s Note: This story has been updated to include the following information received after press time.
District Superintendent Jeff Aranguena confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Mariposa County High School, Spring Hill High School, Lake Don Pedro Elementary School, Greeley Hill Elementary School, Coulterville High School and Yosemite National Park Valley School students will all complete independent studies until returning to classrooms on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
In-person instruction has also been suspended for three grade level classrooms at Mariposa Elementary School. Sports and extracurricular activities at the affected schools have been put on hold until students return to the buildings.
Aranguena shared how a spike in Covid-19 cases has been seen recently across the country, county and local school sites. He expressed appreciation for community members’ patience as the district continues navigating through the pandemic.
The school district is “working in collaboration consistently with public health to make these decisions,” he said. “And so, they’re not unilateral decisions on our end. They’re collaborative decisions.”
According to information from Mariposa County Health & Human Services, 100 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Mariposa County between Friday, Jan. 7 and Tuesday, Jan. 11. Mariposa County currently has 2,039 total cases. Sixty-eight are currently active and 12 are hospitalized.
Three school closures
The recent rise in Covid-19 transmission in the county has led to the temporary shutdown of three Mariposa County Unified Schools.
Effective Jan. 11, Lake Don Pedro Elementary School, Yosemite Valley School and the combined Greeley Hill Elementary School and Coulterville High School, have closed its doors for in-person learning and operations.
“All of those schools had a minimum of 25 percent of students, staff and faculty positive for Covid — (the) highest was in the 40s,” reported Dr. Eric Sergienko, county health officer, at the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning.
A notice regarding the closures was sent to school district parents on Jan. 10, stating that students, staff and faculty can return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
The closures took place for a two-fold reason, Sergienko explained to the supervisors. Operational restraints were not allowing the schools to “conduct classes safely” because of the high number of staff and faculty being out.
On the other hand is the public health reason; Both the public health team and school administration want to limit the Covid-19 transmission taking place in each facility.
“We will continue to collaborate with Mariposa County Public Health to reduce the impact of Covid-19 in our schools,” the school district’s notice to parents reads.
As the Mariposa County Public Health contact tracing team resources are limited, Sergienko reminds the affected populations that the assumption is that those who are symptomatic are a positive Covid-19 case, and those asymptomatic are considered a close contact, and should follow the guidance for isolation and quarantine (link to updated CDPH guidance here: bit.ly/3fe8gtf).
“They shouldn’t be out in the community when the schools are closed,” Sergienko said of the affected populations. “They should be at home either isolating or in quarantine.”