Back to school in L. A. amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. | photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Measuring COVID and vaccination in schools in Northeast L.A.

2021 August August Editions More News

By T.A. Hendrickson

In the two weeks before school started on Monday, more than 3,600 students and staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District tested positive for COVID-19, said LAUSD officials on Tuesday, August 17.

The data are not broken out by school, but 502 of the 3,600 positive cases were in LAUSD’s “Local District (LD) Central” — which includes Eagle Rock Glassell Park, Highland Park, Los Feliz and Mount Washington, among other areas.

The 502 positive cases in LD Central included 447 students and 55 school employees. Those tallies work out to an overall positive test rate of 0.6% in LD Central. That’s the lowest overall positive test rate in LAUSD’s six local districts.

In the other five local districts, the overall positive test rate ranged from 0.7% to 0.9%, with the highest rates recorded in LD Northwest (the San Fernando Valley) and LD South (including San Pedro, Gardena and Wilmington).

The recent positive test rate in all of L.A. County was 4.4%.

The LAUSD tests were conducted from Aug. 2 to Aug 15 and included 81% of students enrolled for in-person instruction. The data from the tests will serve as a baseline from which to measure COVID in reopened schools.  

Starting on Aug. 16, the first day of school, LAUSD launched a “COVID-19 Testing School Report Card,” an online site that will post daily updates, by school, of positive cases among in-person students and school staff employees.

The site also provides comparative information, so parents can compare the school-specific positive rate to the positive rates in the  surrounding community and in L.A. County at large.

Vaccination is the best way to stanch the spread and severity of COVID-19, according to public health officials. Vaccination is not yet available for children under age 12, though public health and school officials believe that vaccination of eligible populations, along with masking, testing and other precautions will control COVID in the school environment.

In Northeast L.A., vaccination rates for 12-to-17 year olds jumped in the weeks before the start of school, but they still fall far short of the mass vaccination that is needed for herd immunity. In Eagle Rock, 61% of 12-to-17 year-olds had at least one shot as of Aug. 12 according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health, followed by 54.5% in Glassell Park; 50% in Elysian Valley; 49% in Highland Park and 48% in Mt. Washington.

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T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.

T.A. Hendrickson
T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times.