At least one person with a connection to three La Jolla schools has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten said in a statement late Tuesday night, March 17, 2020.
“The schools impacted by this announcement are Bird Rock Elementary, La Jolla Elementary and La Jolla High School,” Marten said in the news release.
County health officials informed school district officials of the positive test or tests Tuesday afternoon, March 17, Marten said. No other information about the person or people who tested positive was immediately available.
“For anyone connected with those three schools in particular, there are extra precautions they should take based on this news,” according to the statement. “Principally, they should avoid social interactions and report any symptoms to their physician.”
In two tweets posted just before 10 p.m., school district officials announced the positive test or tests, and acknowledged “how concerning this news is,” and the desire to provide as much information as possible.
“However, because of privacy restrictions, no additional details about the individual(s) can be released,” district officials tweeted. “We are notifying those who may have been exposed with additional guidance.”
The principals at the three schools — Chuck Podhorsky of La Jolla High, Andi Frost of Bird Rock Elementary and Stephanie Hasselbrink of La Jolla Elementary — have since issued a joint statement on March 18 to clarify some pressing questions: “We’d like to reiterate that neither the District nor ourselves have any further information to share with you about the identity of the individual(s) who tested positive for COVID-19. The Public Health Department has not provided us with specific information about the individual(s). While it may be comforting to know who the individual(s) is/are, we do not have a legal right to such information. Although certain penalties and sanctions under the HIPAA Privacy Rule have been waived, individuals’ medical records remain confidential. Further, there is really no need to know the identity; because the individual(s) was/were on our campus between March 2, 2020 and March 13, 2020, we should all assume that we may have been in close contact with them if we were on campus during that time period.
“As noted in yesterday’s communication from the District, symptoms of the virus may appear between 2-14 days after the exposure, and they can range from mild (fever, cough) to severe (shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to arouse, or bluish lips/face). Anyone receiving this letter should self-isolate, and those who are experiencing mild symptoms should contact their medical provider, letting them know that they are a potential contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Anyone with severe symptoms should seek medical care immediately. Further, we should continue to practice social distancing and avoid contact with those outside of our households. We should also continue to cover coughs and sneezes, clean hands and surfaces often, and avoid sharing personal items.”
All schools in the San Diego Unified School District closed March 16 and will remain closed until at least April 6, although Gov. Gavin Newsom said March 17 that schools might not reopen this school year.
More information regarding COVID-19 and the school district can be found at https://sites.google.com/sandi.net/covid19/home
— La Jolla Light reporter Daniel K. Lew contributed to this story.