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Covid

California set to extend workplace COVID sick pay through 2022

in Community

California workplace regulators are poised to extend mandatory pay for workers affected by the coronavirus through the end of 2022, more than two months after state lawmakers restored similar benefits through September.

The decision expected Thursday again pits management against labor as the seven-member Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board renews revised workplace safety rules that would otherwise expire in early May.

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COVID cases in Stanislaus schools drop in early February. ‘Drastic reduction’ in Modesto

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Pitman school employee Maria Johnson gives out COVID-19 rapid self test kits to students accompanied by a parent at Pitman High School in Turlock, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. ANDY ALFARO AALFARO@MODBEE.COM
Pitman school employee Maria Johnson gives out COVID-19 rapid self test kits to students accompanied by a parent at Pitman High School in Turlock, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. ANDY ALFARO AALFARO@MODBEE.COM

As COVID-19 cases drop in Stanislaus County, schools have reported fewer cases among students and staff.

Last week, Stanislaus County schools reported 1,773 cases to local public health officials, down from 2,636 the week ending Jan. 29.

The Health Services Agency noted 207 active outbreaks and 1,334 cases in isolation on Wednesday, according to its COVID-19 data dashboard. An outbreak refers to three or more cases connected to one exposure, the agency says.

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Hundreds of Oakdale students refuse to wear masks, in violation of California mandate

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About 375 Oakdale Joint Unified students refused to wear masks on Wednesday as parents protested California’s mask mandate outside campuses, Superintendent Dave Kline said. The student action continued Thursday, according to the district.

Students who did not wear or accept masks across all grade levels created a “difficult” and time-consuming situation for school officials, who are required by law to ensure students wear face coverings indoors, Kline said Wednesday. “Small numbers” of people protested, he said. “They’re very upset with the mask mandate,” Kline said.

“They want to see that going away.”

But, he added, “This is something that we’re still required to do.”

Numbers of students not wearing masks and parents protesting Thursday were not available by The Bee’s print deadline.

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Cast’s COVID breakthrough cases cancel Modesto’s Gallo Center show at last minute

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As the audience waited, breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among cast members suddenly canceled a performance Tuesday evening at the Gallo Center for the Arts.

The musical “Waitress” was due to begin at 7 p.m. at the downtown Modesto venue.

The show was sold out, according to texts from Chad Hilligus, chief executive officer at the Gallo Center.

“We were informed by ‘Waitress’ company management just after 7 p.m. that, due to breakthrough COVID cases in the cast, the performance would not be able to proceed,” a text from Hilligus said. “There was no indication up to that point that the performance was at risk.”

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Why some Stanislaus school districts stopped directly notifying parents of COVID exposures

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Throughout this school year, parents have received calls or emails letting them know their child may have been exposed to COVID-19 at school. The message would at times arrive days late, due to contact tracing backlogs, but when it came, it would suggest next steps for testing and quarantine.

Now, as cases spread throughout the county and its schools in large numbers, districts in Turlock and Oakdale have stopped calling or emailing families to directly inform them of exposures.

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Stanislaus schools update COVID quarantine policies. What will change?

in School

Stanislaus County schools are changing quarantine policies for students exposed to COVID-19 as cases increase sharply throughout the community.

Among the updates, schools may notify entire classrooms of an exposure to COVID-19 rather than only identifying students within six feet of the person who tested positive. Students who are exposed may in some cases stay in school and participate in extracurricular activities if they don't develop symptoms.

Ceres Unified School District began implementing the policies Friday, spokeswoman Beth Parker Jimenez said by email. Turlock Unified School District and Modesto City Schools plan to enact the changes Tuesday, following the Martin Luther King Day holiday Monday.

The districts are following guidance released by the California Department of Public Health. Isolation periods for when a person tests positive for COVID-19 were updated previously to be as short as five days with a negative test and no symptoms.

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TUSD sees spike in COVID cases and exposure

in School

Turlock Unified School District is managing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and individuals deemed close-contact. The last update revealed that nearly 1,500 students and staff are in some sort of COVID protocol.

According to the District's COVID-19 data dashboard, TUSD reported 1,491 students and staff either contracted the virus or was deemed close to someone who tested positive. Close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, cumulative, starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Elementary schools have the most people in protocol with 71 positive tests including 49 students and 22 staff members. An additional 500 are considered close contact. High schools weren’t far behind with 53 positive tests from 43 students and 10 staff members. They had 494 individuals deemed close contact. In total there were 153 positive tests reported from Jan. 3-7 with 1,338 being deemed close contact.

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How will Turlock spend $15.7 million in COVID funds? Business, mental health priorities

in business/Mental Health/News

With $15.7 million of federal COVID-19 relief money to spend in the next five years, the Turlock City Council on Tuesday identified supporting business and mental health needs as priorities.

For presentation at a future council meeting, city staff plan to prepare a list of top five spending ideas based on Tuesday’s discussion, Interim City Manager Dan Madden said.

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