Seven Arrows, a private K-6 school in Pacific Palisades, which has operated since September without any outbreaks of the virus, announced in a February 18 press release that “Seven Arrows partnered with Centogene to provide weekly testing for students, teachers, and all staff; a vital phase that will further enhance their existing safety protocols to prevent outbreaks and protect their in-person learning community.”
Circling the News asked school officials, “Can you tell me why you’re testing students, when all data shows that they most likely don’t spread the virus? Will parents be required to pay for this (most insurances don’t cover it) or will the school pay for it?”
(Anthem will cover Covid-19 testing for members who have Covid symptoms, have been exposed to someone who has Covid-19, or if the test is otherwise medically necessary. California Blue Cross/Blue Shield notes that if someone is not an essential worker, and if the test has not been ordered by the healthcare provider, it is not covered.)
The testing “is free to all families and the school is covering the cost,” said Fiona Farrahi, the director of marketing. “With the recent spike of cases, it was so difficult for our community members to get tested at the public sites and get results in time for a return to in-person learning.”
In November, kindergarten through second grades began in-person instruction for all students five days a week from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m., and all other classes, which were set to start on January 11, were asked to follow L.A. County’s Travel Policy.
“Families do not have to have insurance to test and testing, although not the primary strategy does provide our community with peace of mind and the opportunity to trace, and if necessary, contain it faster. It helps us to also screen for asymptomatic carriers.”
Cases are dropping in Southern California and the Centers for Disease Control has urged, “Opening schools for in-person learning as safely and quickly as possible, and keeping them open, is important given the many known and established benefits of in-person learning . . . Most children and adolescents with the virus that causes COVID-19 have mild symptoms and some have no symptoms at all.”
At St. Matthew’s School, a private pre-K through 6th school, the administration decided to join public schools by not offering in-school learning in January.
St. Matthew’s parents learned in February that they would be required to pay for once-a-week testing for their students and that the school had partnered with PHM Laboratory, which received its California Clinical and Public Health Laboratory License in September 2020.
The PMH website (pmhlaboratory.com) states that in charges a $195 cash fee for Covid-19 rt-PCR test. On the staff is Dr. Rahil Khan, who was indicted for receiving $1 million from Kareem Ahmed between 2010 and 2013 for patient referrals and insurance fraud.
CTN contacted St. Matthew’s Director of Marketing and Communications Enne Michael, Head of School Edward Kim and church Pastor Bruce Freeman on February 18 to verify that there had been no in-school classes in January, that parents would be required to sign up for weekly testing with PMH and to ask if the school knew that Kahn had been indicted in the Superior Court for the County of Orange.
There was no response by posting time Tuesday. If CTN receives a statement, this story will be updated.
At LAUSD schools, which have been told by the CDC that they can resume in-school learning, parents are starting an online petition to demand the resignation of UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz on change.org.
The petition states: “She has launched a campaign to misrepresent and disenfranchise 1,000’s of LAUSD families from ALL communities. These campaigns have included racist and disparaging remarks, including calling out ‘white and Middle Eastern families’ in one of her Facebook posts. Ms. Myart-Cruz has also taken it upon herself to speak for the entire Black & Brown parent body when she claims they are not ready to return. Many parents from these communities have said differently. But ANYONE who speaks out against her and UTLA’s position is immediately blocked from the union’s social platforms and their comments are removed. All parent voices deserve to be heard and all parents have the right to speak for themselves!”
In a statement last week, Myart-Cruz said that “Schools cannot open here until L.A. County is out of the purple tier, all staff is either fully vaccinated or provided access to vaccination and three safety conditions are in the schools such as PPE, social distancing, ventilation and a cleaning regimen.”
As a reminder, at LAUSD the total projected enrollment for 2020-2021 is 652,648, with the Latino population at 74 percent, white 10 percent, Black eight percent, Asian four percent and Filipino, Native American and “not reported” the remainder of the population. That means that 90 percent of the LAUSD population is nonwhite and are not receiving in-classroom learning.
Interesting commentary that really points out the unfair advantages of the small private school with mostly financially stable families able to pay for constant testing (and if the school says it is absorbing the cost -isn’t that ultimately through tuition paid?). And if the schools did not think such testing was a responsible thing to do, they wouldn’t. And then there is the question of how long parents would be willing to pay for this and the ethics of the testing company, but the real issue is that:
Comparing small school (or small school district) ability to return to the classroom with LAUSD simply does not make sense. LAUSD obviously cannot test like that. No question that inschool learning is absolutely preferable – any educator will agree. No question that LAUSD is heavily challenged by its size, diversity and the complexity of delivering services to a population that has far more challenges than most – not all – students in very small schools like the two mentioned. Facilities are not as well maintained – space is often at a premium, and so on. And can you imagine what a tax burden such testing in LAUSD would be? The cost of cutting class sizes to allow better spacing? Wish there were simpler answers….
BTW, I no longer have school age children, but I do have school age grandsons. Two of my three sons are fully LAUSD educated (and long ago college graduates), the third is partially LAUSD, and also long ago college graduated. And I have been a PTA President 5 times – 4 times at LAUSD, once at a private school.