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Ventura County gets more than 130,000 COVID-19 test kits for students

Dave Schermer
Ventura County Office of Education
More than 130,000 COVID-19 test kits intended for K-12 students in Ventura County arrived in the county this week. It was the first county in the region to get some of the promised kits from the state.

First county in region to get kits; enough to test every K-12 public and charter school student in Ventura County.

Getting a COVID-19 test has become a big challenge for many during the latest surge, but more than 130,000 students on the South Coast are getting a boost.

Ventura County is the first county in the region to receive promised test kits from the state.

"That's enough to cover every student in the county, K through 12th grade, and it includes charter schools," said Ventura County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cesar Morales.

Dr. Morales says getting the kits into the hands is important. The surge understandably has many families worried.

"There's a big percentage of the community that's concerned," said the superintendent. "There has been parent concern, and staff concern on reevaluating the safety of being in a school setting."

The state had originally promised to get the kits to districts before the start of the new year. Each one of the kits contains two tests. Only about a third of the state’s counties have received the kits, which are in high demand because of the surge.

Dave Schermer
Ventura County Office of Education
Each COVID-19 test package from the state, and being distribute through Ventura County schools contains two test kits.

It’s still too early for most school district in the region to assess how they are being impacted by the latest surge. Some schools haven't returned from their winter breaks yet.

The Simi Valley Unified School District, which is one of Ventura County largest districts, is reporting seven students, and seven staff members have tested positive since reopening after the holidays. Moorpark Unified is reporting eight positive student cases, and seven positive staff cases of the virus.

The county schools superintendent says so far this new year, districts are reporting they are able to meet staffing demands.

But, Dr. Morales says if the surge continues as predicted, staffing could get challenging.

"It is a strain right now. There is some concern next week when 100% of our districts are online it's going to further strain the existing substitute system." said Dr. Morales. "We hope this current surge plateaus fast."

Dr. Morales, despite the rising numbers, and concerns, believes that with all the safety protocols schools are a safer place for kids to be than out in the community at large, where precautions like masking may be more lax.

He says there’s no question students are benefiting by being back in class.

And, the Ventura County Schools Superintendent points out that whether schools remain open in-person isn’t a local decision, it’s the state’s.

Santa Barbara County schools officials say as of Thursday night, they hadn't received any of the kits yet, but are ready and anxious to distribute them.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.