MANTECA, Calif. (KTXL) — The Manteca Unified School District reported record high COVID-19 cases for both students and staff as cases of the omicron variant are surging throughout San Joaquin County.
District spokeswoman Victoria Brunn said a record high of 185 total positive cases were reported last week. Of that number, 109 students and 76 teachers and other staff members recently tested positive.
The district releases COVID-19 numbers weekly.
“These are our peaks that we’ve seen thus far, primarily because more people are testing and because more people are reporting,” Brunn said.
While cases are soaring, positive results account for less than 1% of each school’s population, Brunn continued.
The district’s recent surge is impacting staffing across its schools, which serves more than 25,000 students.
“We are requiring far more substitutes both in our teaching staff and in our classified support staff across the board,” Brunn said.
As COVID-19 continues to impact the district, Manteca educators say the district is scrambling to fill positions.
“It’s a trickle-down,” said Manteca Educators’ Association President Rob VanNoord. “It affects everybody because, you know, if we’re pulling from the general ed classes, it affects all the other classes.”
San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools Troy Brown said MUSD isn’t alone.
“There’s definitely some strain in the system,” Brown said. “But we’ve got great educators all over and so, you know, administrators, counselors, whoever can fill in is filling in.”
Although the Office of Education has no plans for any district to return to a hybrid format or virtual learning, MUSD has contingency plans in place.
“We have to be ready if that need does arise,” Brunn said. “Although, I do want to be very clear that we do not anticipate this at this time.”
If cases continue to rise, the teachers union said the discussion regarding a return to distance learning may need to be revisited.
“If it doesn’t slow down with the district and stuff, we have to do what’s best for the kids,” Van Noord said. “And if you have a revolving door of subs in the classroom, I don’t think that’s very good for the kids as well.”
The district’s objective is to keep kids in the classroom and it’s calling on the community to help schools achieve that.
“This is a great time to assist school districts by applying for substitute positions, whether that’s substituting in the classroom as teaching staff or substituting as support staff, but what we need is manpower and women power,” Brunn said.