Re: Covid Update

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Reid Priedhorsky

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Jan 5, 2022, 10:55:21 AM1/5/22
to Jennifer Guy, public....@laschools.net, Melanie Colgan, e.sp...@laschools.net, c.ber...@laschools.net, Erin Green
Hello Ms. Guy, School Board members:

Thank you for the update. However, I have a number of ongoing concerns about LAPS COVID response. “Concern”, “close monitoring”, “commitment”, etc. are nice words, but words matter little. What matters is actions.

For example, it’s been increasingly clear, especially in recent weeks, that the traditional masking strategy is inadequate. Staff and students need consistently and correctly worn, well fitting, genuine, high-quality N95, KN95, KF94, or FFP2 masks, not cloth or surgical. (See the attached Wall Street Journal article, noting the times in the table are for pre-Omicron and will be considerably shorter now.) LAPS management should have addressed this over the break if not before, providing clear guidance, supplies, and use data on mask quality and compliance; instead, we get one word — “masking”.

Another example is the inadequate surveillance testing. This needs to be frequent, trivially easy to access, aggressively promoted, and as close to universal as possible. With Omicron spiking across the country, including among the fully vaccinated, and vigorous social mixing over the holidays, a timely negative rapid test should be required for return to attendance. Instead, LAPS management is “very appreciative” (words again) that a fraction of those in school buildings are tested, with too much lead time to catch infectiousness before the start of school and testing times that conflict with class.

Communication also remains poor. For example, the case counts linked below provide no history, and the “version history” menu item is disabled (better PR if the bad news is hidden!). The below link promising “more information about LAPS school re-entry plans” goes to an “Update for LAPS staff” and a giant content-free headline “How can we help you?”. Yesterday’s newsletter included role models (a staff member and a cop) masking incorrectly.

Bottom line, in my well-informed opinion, having published in epidemiology and holding an advanced degree in human factors, I remain extremely disappointed by the LAPS COVID response. It’s a shifting mix of head-in-the-sand, PR-driven, and too-little-too-late, requiring students, staff, and parents to be needlessly heroic, making individual decisions based on inadequate information.

The correct response is proactive, evidence-driven, and institutional. LAPS should have engaged with the world-class public health experts available locally in February 2020; it’s embarrassing that it still hasn’t.

I do not trust LAPS to keep my children safe, and I suspect given absenteeism this morning you will see I am not alone. I am asking for an immediate pivot in strategy.

Thank you,
Reid Priedhorsky
LAPS parent

On Jan 3, 2022, at 7:18 PM, Jennifer Guy<j....@laschools.net> wrote:

Good evening, 

Today, you may have seen updated numbers on Covid from the New Mexico Department of Health. Los Alamos County saw an increase of 92 cases. I am, of course, concerned about these increasing numbers. We are watching this very carefully and closely monitoring all school sites. 

There were many rumors today about large numbers of positive cases in our schools. We have not found these rumors to be true but will continue to investigate. Today, we tested 250 staff members and students. We had 6 positive cases from this testing. One staff member and 5 children tested positive through these tests. I am very appreciative that these families came in and tested. We have one more staff member who reported a positive test over the break who is quarantining. You can track updated LAPS case counts here. None of the positive staff members have been on any school campuses since December 17, 2021. 

We are committed to keeping our students and staff safe and our schools open. We will continue to follow enhanced mitigation measures at all school sites including social distancing, masking, frequent hand washing, sanitizing, and screening staff and students for symptoms. We have testing available for all staff and students from 8:00 - 11:30 every Monday - Friday at 2075 Trinity Drive in Suite S. You can find more information about LAPS school re-entry plans on our website. We will keep our schools open as long as our positive cases during a 14 period are below 5% of the school population. 

We need your help: 

  • If your child is sick, please keep them home. All absences will be excused and school work will be provided. 
  • If your child, or anyone in the household, has covid symptoms, please get them tested. 
  • Report any positive cases in your home to your school nurse.

We appreciate everyone in the community working together. 

Sincerely, 

Jennifer Guy 

Interim Superintendent

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WSJ masking 2022-01-02.pdf
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