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December 8, 2023

Santa Cruz County schools distribute thousands of rapid Covid-19 tests

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—School districts throughout Santa Cruz County have passed out some 80,000 rapid-result Covid-19 test kits to families, as kids return to in-person instruction from winter break and officials try to prevent a surge via school campuses.

As of Tuesday, officials have reported a 7%, 14-day positivity rate, said Nick Ibarra, spokesman for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE).

Those who tested positive must stay home for 10 days after the date of the positive test.

The COE received the test kits over the New Year’s holiday. The 80,000 kits are enough, County Superintendent of School Faris Sabbah said, for each student enrolled in the 100-plus schools in Santa Cruz County to get two tests.

The rapid tests take 15 minutes to administer, and the results can be sent to the respective schools via a cell phone.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez, who drove a cargo van to the COE to pick up the kits for that district, says that distribution of the tests began on Tuesday so that students and employees can be tested twice before classes resume on Jan. 10.

Hundreds of cars lined up at PVUSD’s headquarters on Green Valley Road earlier this week to pick up their tests. That line of cars, at times, stretched out of the parking lot along Green Valley Road several blocks to Freedom Boulevard. Several teams of workers greeted the motorists to fetch information and hand out the pairs of test kits.

Distributions continue this weekend at the following locations and times:

District Office Drive-Thru

  • Where: 294 Green Valley Rd.
  • When: Jan. 7
  • Time: 9am-5pm

Family Engagement & Wellness Center

  • Where: 530 Palm Ave. 
  • When: Jan. 7-8
  • Time: 11am-7pm

Cabrillo College Parking Lot K Drive-Thru 

  • Where: 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos
  • When: Jan. 7-8
  • Time: 9am-5pm on Jan. 7 and 9am-2pm on Jan. 8 

While not required for return to class, school officials say they strongly recommended students and staff take the tests because of the current surge in Covid-19 cases nationwide as the Omicron variant of the virus spreads.

California on Thursday was reporting a daily average of 36,282 new Covid-19 cases, according to the California Department of Public Health. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 5,530,751 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state. And while the vast majority of Californians have overcome the disease, 76,049 have died with Covid-19.

Locally, some 1,900 Santa Cruz County residents had Covid-19 as of Thursday, according to county data.

The National Institute of Health has said that testing helps identify people carrying the disease so that they can isolate themselves and prevent spreading it further.


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