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Assessment Tool Will Allow Quick Entry When In-Person School Returns

Sep 02, 2020 10:47PM ● By DigMB Staff
With daily health screenings now required for students attending school in-person in Los Angeles County,Beach Cities Health (BCHD) has teamed with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and beach cities school districts including Manhattan Beach Unified School District  to launch a symptom assessment tool that can be accessed via smartphone to expedite entry to campuses for students and staff.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us all to be innovative and resourceful in finding effective and efficient ways to ensure the health and safety of our community,” said Omkar Kulkarni, chief innovation officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is committed to building a healthier future for children in Southern California and beyond, and we are proud to be working with the Beach Cities Health District to help secure the safety of students and staff as they return to school.”

The Los Angeles County Health Officer Order – Reopening Protocols for K-12 Schools requires schools to screen students, staff and visitors before entering campus. The screening must include a check-in concerning cough, shortness of breath, fever and any other symptoms the visitor may be experiencing, as well as any close contact with anyone at home, school or elsewhere that the individual has been told has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The new screening tool is basically a health checklist on an app that gives a quick "green light" or "red light" depending on whether a student is healthy enough to enter the school. Students and staff at Beach Cities school districts will have the option to use the symptom assessment tool through their mobile device and flash the "green light" before entering the school.

While Beach Cities school districts began the school year on August 26 in a distance learning format, the symptom assessment tool will be used by some school staff to return to campus, along with students enrolled in local Child Development Centers, with eventual plans to utilize the screening tool when students return to on-campus instruction.

Families are also encouraged to do daily temperature checks at home, so they are able to accurately answer the screening questions. The symptom assessment tool is available at www.bchd.org/covid-schools or https://bchdcovidscreen.org

In-person screening will also be available for students and staff who are unable to access the symptom assessment tool through their mobile device by using the “Additional Screening” line at the school entrance.

“We are diligently preparing for the time when we can reopen all of our campuses, hopefully sooner than later. I know that our students and our employees miss being in school,” said MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews in a statement. “We know that it is better for our students to be in school, but to get them back, we must behave safely and responsibly, while ensuring that our children do the same. This means wearing masks, washing our hands, staying at least 6 feet away from non-household members, and limiting interactions with people outside of our households whenever possible.”

The state is monitoring all counties on six indicators to determine their progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19. These metrics include testing capacity, how much transmission of the virus is happening in the community, how many people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, and the capacity of hospitals to care for people with COVID-19 with adequate numbers of available Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators. LA County is meeting five of the state’s six indicators, only missing the mark on the threshold of having less than 100 cases per 100,000 residents. As of August 25, the case rate is 196 cases per 100,000 residents.

While Governor Gavin Newsom has allowed local health officers the discretion to grant waivers to allow schools to reopen for in-classroom instruction for students in grades TK through grade 6 once case rates are under 200 per 100,000 people, after LA County reached that threshold earlier in the week, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced that L.A. County would not be opening up the waiver process for schools at this time, and would continue to review the guidance from the state.

When schools do reopen, they must have COVID-19 prevention and response plans in place, including promoting healthy hand hygiene, requiring face coverings for all staff and students in the third grade and above, maintaining distance inside and outside of the classroom, checking for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and having a plan in place for when someone becomes sick.

“When campuses open this school year, students will need to do more than pack a backpack and a lunch each morning,” said Tom Bakaly, CEO of BCHD. “This easy-to-use symptom assessment tool, developed by Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, will help families to get their kids ready to go to school and keep their campus and community healthy.”

BCHD will also be launching a warmline for parents and staff to navigate health and safety concerns regarding COVID-19, along with mental health information and referrals, by calling 310-374-3426, ext. 256, on school days between 8:30 a.m. –5 p.m. Parents and staff are encouraged to identify the school they are calling from to be connected to a BCHD COVID-19 Care Navigator.

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