Teachers volunteer at migrant facility with high Covid-19 rates while San Diego students learn virtually: Report
'Is there a risk that these teachers may even get infected at the facility and then bring it to the schools, where they are going to be working?' asked Jonathan Zachreson, who is leading a petition to reopen schools across the state
Local teachers in San Diego will be providing in-person instructions to unaccompanied child migrants housed at a convention center despite an alarmingly high COVID-19 infections rate. Meanwhile, their own students will remain at home and attend virtual classes.
The Biden administration is still formulating a cohesive plan to tackle the unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors flocking to the southern border. Hundreds of migrant girls have been housed at the San Diego Convention Center, according to a Fox News report.
The US Department of Health and Human Services told Fox News on Tuesday evening, March 30, that at least 82 from the over 700 unaccompanied girls brought to the center had tested positive for the virus.
According to the report, all of the girls had been tested prior to being transferred to the facility on Monday, March 29. At the time, 59 tested positive for COVID-19, and so they were housed separately and anyone unwell or injured were being treated on-site by staff from Rady's Children's Hospital. Meanwhile, children with serious illnesses were sent directly to a hospital.
While testing at the facility, at least 23 more girls were found to be positive for the virus and had to be moved to a different floor from the negative-testing population. Meanwhile, those who were exposed but had not tested positive were quarantined in another area.
According to the HHS, children who had not tested positive would continue to be tested every three days.
In the past week, San Diego County has reported roughly 1,800 new cases out of an estimated population of more than 3 million. While none of the COVID-positive migrants required hospitalizations, 82 cases out of roughly 700 is about 9%, compared to the 0.0018% rate of San Diego residents, Fox News reported.
"That’s a case rate of 10,933 per 100,000 – or 437 times higher than the case rate threshold that schools are allowed to reopen in California," Scott Davison, who is suing the state in a bid to reopen schools, told the outlet. "Threshold for reopening in California is 25 per 100,000."
The spokeswoman for the San Diego Unified School District did not address concerns about the convention center's coronavirus rate, but insisted that teachers were giving up their vacation time to volunteer at the migrant facility.
"Some of our educators have volunteered to give up their vacation time – this week is our spring break – to help hundreds of teenage girls who are sheltering in our city, away from their families and in some cases thousands of miles from home," she told Fox News on March 30.
"Our teachers have volunteered to help -- we are not paying them in any way -- because caring for children is central to who they are as human beings. The power of their example should inspire us all, and hopefully, many others will be inspired to show these girls that we are a compassionate community."
It's worth noting that the district is the second-largest in the state and the largest in San Diego County. According to the report, it plans to reopen schools on a hybrid basis from April 12, with a combination of in-person and online classes.
"We see that it’s safe, yet we have teacher unions resisting this," Jonathan Zachreson, who is leading a petition to reopen schools across the state, told Fox News. "You see this from San Diego. Up in Oakland, vaccinated teachers are refusing to come back... even though their school district is wanting it to happen."
According to the report, Zachreson and his supporters are calling on California governor Gavin Newsom to immediately mandate a school reopening of five-days of in-person learning for all students. Zachreson noted that teachers in the state had been prioritized for vaccination, but had been reluctant to return to the classroom.
The spread of Covid-19 remains a concern even with vaccines in the state's schools despite the fact that children housed in the convention center have a higher case rate than local students and the surrounding community.
"Another concern that hasn’t really been discussed – these same teachers are volunteering at this facility, [where there are] exponential COVID rates, much higher than what was allowed for [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance for in-person instruction," Zachreson explained. "Is there a risk that these teachers may even get infected at the facility and then bring it to the schools, where they are going to be working? Who’s gonna get the blame for the Covid spread?" he asked.