The Calexico Unified School District offices on Andrade Avenue have been temporarily closed at the recommendation of the county health officer after a COVID outbreak of at least three office staffers. The closure came Thursday, Aug. 5. | CAMILO GARCIA JR. PHOTO
CALEXICO — The COVID-positive status of at least three employees of the Calexico Unified School District’s administrative office building prompted its temporary closure last week, but staff members who were not positive and not displaying symptoms returned to work on Wednesday, Aug. 11.
The initial closure came on Thursday, Aug. 5, at the recommendation of county Public Health Officer, Dr. Stephen Munday, said district board President Ciro Calderon on Monday, Aug. 9.
None of the employees that have tested positive have reported serious illness, and the outbreak appears limited to the district’s administrative office building at 901 Andrade Ave., Calderon said.
Because at least three district office employees tested positive for COVID-19 within a short time frame, the combined incidents are categorized as an “outbreak,” Calderon said.
On late Tuesday, Aug. 10, the Calexico Unified School District issued a press release that stated the administrative office building was required to test all affected employees and remain closed until the county Public Health Department could provide further guidance.
Public Health officials then clarified that fully vaccinated staff who were not COVID-19 positive and who were not displaying symptoms could return to the office for work starting Wednesday.
“All staff members who are not vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or who did not respond to a vaccination survey are required to wait until they have a second COVID test result submitted to the Human Resources Department as per the most current state guidelines,” the written statement said.
Imperial County Public Health Director Janette Angulo would not specifically confirm Calexico Unified’s “outbreak” when contacted Monday; rather, she suggested contacting the district directly.
“We are seeing outbreaks, and we are providing assistance needed to different agencies,” Angulo added.
As of Jan. 1, employers across the state have been required to report outbreaks of at least three or more employees within a 14-day period to their respective local public health agencies.
Yet prior to the implementation of Assembly Bill 685, school districts and childcare providers were already required by the state to disclose such outbreaks, the county Public Health Department previously stated.
Under those prior reporting requirements, a district must disclose every individual case of COVID-19 among any student or employee who was present on a K-12 public or private school campus within the 10 days preceding a positive test, the California Department of Education website stated.
The period of potential exposure begins two days before the COVID-positive individual developed symptoms, local public health officials previously said.
Potential exposure is defined as when an individual has spent a cumulative period of at least 15 minutes within a day and within a distance of less than six feet of a person who has been determined to be COVID-19 positive.
When it comes to outbreaks, the new emergency temporary standards implemented by CalOSHA do not require the closure of a workplace when they reach three cases or more within a 14-day period, said Maria Peinado, county Public Health spokesperson.
When a workplace has an outbreak, it has to implement additional COVID-19 mitigation efforts such as requiring masks regardless of vaccination status and physical distancing.
“If an outbreak exceeds a certain amount of cases, depending on the size of the workplace and number of staff, this is when the employer will have to work with the Imperial County Public Health Department for additional guidance and steps moving forward,” Peinado said in an email on Monday, Aug. 9.
(This story was updated at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11.)