DANVILLE (KPIX) — Special needs students were allowed to go back to class at one East Bay high school then, less than a week later, eight teachers and students tested positive for COVID-19. It
happened at Del Amigo High in Danville, a small school specifically for teens with special needs. Some classes resumed at Del Amigo on November 17.
“I’m very resentful to the school district for keeping me from my family because I felt they put me in an unsafe situation from the get-go,” said Jan Jimenez, who is an autism specialist at the high school.
She has been quarantined at home for almost two weeks while battling COVID-19 after she says she was exposed to the virus on her first day back to in-person classes.
“Half of our students, if not more, in our classroom were unable to wear a mask. We could not stay socially-distanced,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez says her class has 18-year-olds to 22-year-olds with severe mental or physical disabilities. She says, because of that, the staff and students were not able to follow recommended safety guidelines, even on that first day back to class when one of the students had a fever and Jan was only wearing a cloth mask.
“We did not have the tools, the knowledge or the safety behind being able to work with these students in the proper way,” said Jimenez.
She blames the San Ramon Valley Unified School District for not having a proper COVID safety plan in place before returning to the classroom.
The school district released a statement saying, “The District has closely examined the situation and we are taking steps to augment our health protocols and practices.”.
Jan says none of this should have happened in the first place and says all in-person learning should stop until the district releases a better safety plan.
“I feel like we were guinea pigs. Their protocol, their PPE, their rules and regulations did not work,” Jimenez said.
Superintendent John Malloy told KPIX on Wednesday that the district disinfected the impacted classrooms and will provide N95 masks to staff in classes where students are not able to keep their masks on.
As for Jan, she says she is doing OK and everyone else in her class is also recovering.
STATEMENT FROM SAN RAMON VALLEY USD
The District has closely examined the situation and we are taking steps to augment our health protocols and practices, including reiterating to all employees the importance of strictly adhering to these protocols, which are set in accordance with guidelines from public health experts.
We understand that the pandemic requires people across many industries to work in challenging and emotionally concerning times, so we are working to support our employees so they can help us to deliver on our legal obligation to educate children. Balancing our obligation to educate students while helping to protect public health is a balancing act that benefits from everyone working together. We are grateful to the many dedicated employees who are working with our students, both in-person and through remote instruction.
San Ramon Valley Unified School District