Some school officials are flouting the updated state rules, saying students will be allowed to return to the classroom with or without a mask.
California’s smallest school districts say they will refuse to send kids home for not wearing a mask despite a new state mandate.
Superintendents in these tight-knit and typically more conservative communities want the state to let local districts make their own decisions, considering the success some of them have had with reopening their campuses last year without triggering COVID-19 outbreaks.
“These districts were in class all year, and they just don’t believe masks are needed to teach children,” said Tim Taylor, executive director of the Small School Districts Association, which represents hundreds of districts with fewer than 5,000 students.
On Monday afternoon, the California Department of Public Health went back and forth on updates to its masking rule. Health officials first said students who refuse to wear masks without a valid medical excuse won’t be allowed on campuses. Four hours later, the agency revised the guidelines to say local districts will be responsible for enforcing the mask mandate.
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which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.
While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state.
The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.
The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.
“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”
Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.
All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.
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