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COVID Omicron Surge: Oakland Unified Says Mass Testing Over Holidays Finds Nearly 1,000 Cases Among Staff, Students

OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Officials at the Oakland Unified School District credited a COVID-19 mass testing effort over the holidays in helping find nearly 1,000 cases among students and staff before classes resumed Monday.

OUSD officials said that they learned of 985 positive tests between New Year's Eve and when classes began. Out of the positive tests, 920 were of students and staff, while another 65 were family members or others in the community.

"Although we know the omicron variant is spreading across the country, we are pleased to see this testing regimen work the way we hoped it would, keeping sick people at home," superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement Tuesday. "The high number of tests taken and results reported show that people in our community are looking out for their health and the health of everyone around them."

Much of the testing was conducted through 41,000 home tests sent to families before and during winter break. Through home testing, 21,000 results were submitted to the district's COVID-19 case tracking system, 472 of which were positive, constituting a 2.2% positivity rate.

OUSD officials believe the actual number of home tests conducted were much higher, saying that many families who had negative results did not upload them.

Along with the home tests, the district conducted testing at school sites over the holidays. The district also held a special testing clinic at Fremont High School on Sunday and handed out 350 additional home tests.

During the Sunday clinic, 74 positive cases were found, officials said.

OUSD also reports that 269 teachers were reported as absent on Monday, many of which were COVID-19 related. The district stressed that they were prepared for a large number of absences, responding with substitutes and deploying central office staff as needed.

"As for staff absences, we have seen high numbers, but they remain manageable," Johnson-Trammell said.

OUSD said they continue to expect a "high level of absences" through this week and possibly extending into next week.

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