Sacramento County announced late Monday afternoon that efforts dealing with COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus, have shifted from containment to mitigation. Perhaps the biggest change in this shift is ceasing 14-day quarantines.

The county says that the shift to community mitigation measures will slow the spread of COVID-19, thereby protecting those who are most vulnerable to severe illness, and allow the health care system to prepare resources to take care of severely ill patients, whether they are ill from COVID-19 or other illnesses.

According to Sacramento County Health, “it is no longer necessary for someone who has been in contact with someone with the illness to quarantine for 14 days.”

This directive applies to the general public, as well as health care workers and first responders.

“However, if they develop respiratory symptoms, they should stay home in order to protect those who are well,” a Monday afternoon county press release said.

This comes on the heals of a flurry of social media posts over the weekend responding to the announcement that Elk Grove Unified School District was closing its doors this week because a family was put on quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. The county confirmed in the Monday press release that an Elk Grove school district elementary school-aged student tested positive for the virus.

Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) chose notification rather than school closure after announcing earlier last week that a substitute teacher, who had taught at three different campuses in town, had been exposed to an individual who had tested positive for the virus. It wasn’t until the weekend when it was later determined that the substitute did not test positive for COVID-19.

Both GJUESD and Galt Joint Union High School District (GJUHSD) are taking mitigating steps to help keep their campuses as safe and clean as they can, including nightly disinfecting, just a step above what is done annually during the normal flu season.

“Since early February, more frequent deep cleaning has taken place that includes increased sanitizing practices at every school,” GJUESD Superintendent Karen Schauer said.

GJUHSD Superintendent William Spalding concurred and told The Galt Herald that the custodial staff is ramping up sanitization practices using industrial strength, EPA- certified cleaners each evening.

“We feel good about the level of prevention in these circumstances, similar to what we do during the spring flu season,” Spalding said.

The contagion of panic seemed to spread faster than the contagion of the actual virus nationwide with stores not being able to keep the shelves stocked of toilet paper and hand sanitizer as people tried to prepare for the worst.

That same concern filtered its way to Galt as the local stores saw an influx of customers stocking up on the same products.

Although the high school district has not seen a significant decrease in student attendance, the same can’t be said at the elementary level, reporting that student absences have doubled.

“Employee attendance was fairly normal with 73 staff members absent out of a total of 548 employees and 73-94 students absent per school, which is about double the normal student absence rate,” Schauer said.

Both districts are encouraging students and staff to follow health professional advice to use preventative health practices, including washing their hands with soap and water, sneezing or coughing into their sleeve or a tissue and staying home if they are sick.

The two superintendents said that their districts are prepared if students become sick and need to stay home during their recovery, just as with any other times students are unable to attend school.

And both districts are exploring options to help expedite getting classwork for students that may need it for a prolonged time period.

Although neither school district anticipates a need to follow in the Elk Grove school district’s footsteps, the elementary district is working on the feasibility to provide learning remotely.

“We are in a good position to provide remote learning classwork, if schools are closed for a prolonged period,” Shauer said. “We have one-to-one computer devices for every student with ‘hot spots’ that can go home with students without Internet access. More planning is needed to make this work effectively for every student.”

Schauer continued, “Claudia Del Toro Anguiano, Director of Curriculum, and Minh Do, District Technology Coordinator, are working on feasible remote learning plans, should we need to support learning outside of school locations. In addition, Nick Svoboda, Food Services Supervisor, is working with district food services staff to consider food distribution plans for students receiving free or reduced cost meals.”

But the overall message coming from the local education leaders is that school is still open and a safe place to be.

Recommended preventative health practices

• Stay home if you have a fever or are sick.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve (not hands) when sneezing or coughing.

• Wash hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) often or use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

• Get the flu shot. The flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, but is highly recommended to help keep you healthy.

Source: Sacramento County Public Health