Capistrano Unified provides transparency to families with COVID-19 dashboard

By Elysse James

Capistrano Unified School District, the largest school district in Orange County and the eighth-largest public school district in California, is providing families concerned about safety with a new tool: an online dashboard listing positive COVID-19 cases by campus.

The Capistrano Unified Positive COVID-19 Case Dashboard lists the number of active staff and student positive COVID-19 cases by school, along with the in-person enrollment for each campus.

Capistrano Unified provided families the option of in-person, on-campus instruction starting Sept. 28 with a tiered approach that began with special education and self-contained services and ended Oct. 13 with high schools.

The district also has given families the power of choice with the ability to seamlessly change to an all-online option at any time. Families can choose online-only, hybrid, or full-time on-campus education for their students.

The district, which serves 47,000 students, is one of only a few in Orange County offering full-time elementary school.

“We want to thank all our CUSD families for their efforts in helping us create a safe environment in which to continue providing a high standard of education to our learners,” said Supt. Kirsten Vital. “We could not do this work without the support of our families and students.”

District officials announced the dashboard in late October in a note to families from Chief Communications Officer Ryan Burris.

If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, all students and staff who were in close contact with that person are notified through the school or the Orange County Health Care Agency, which is working closely with CUSD officials, and asked to quarantine.

When a positive case is confirmed in the district, the case is listed on the dashboard for 14 days before it is removed, though the person can return to school after 10 days.

Students and staff have their temperature checked upon arrival on campus, and are asked to wear masks, frequently wash and sanitize hands, and stay within small groups to minimize potential spread. Desks are spaced to provide safe distance, and plexiglass barriers and hand sanitizing stations adorn every classroom.

“We continue to follow the guidelines for reopening in-person learning from the California Department of Public Health,” Burris said. “Our top priority remains the health and safety of our students and staff.”

The Capistrano Unified Positive COVID-19 Case Dashboard is the latest in a string of transparency efforts by Capistrano Unified to keep families informed prior to and during the pandemic.

“We at CUSD are committed to building a culture of trust and transparency,” Burris said, “There has never been a more crucial time to ensure that our families receive communication from us through emails, the district’s website, our social media, and CUSD Insider. During the pandemic, our communication efforts have helped us strengthen relationships with our families and keep everyone informed.”

View the dashboard here.

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