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La Mesa-Spring Valley District scores stockpile of COVID home tests

A two-week holiday break ended with many families scrambling to test their children for COVID before going back to school today. Thousands of students across the county returned to classes on campus facing another semester of masks and some mandates. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez tells us about one district that starts back tomorrow but today had parents already lined up.

The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District gave away the last of its stockpile of COVID home tests Monday. The drive-thru event at Sweetwater Springs Elementary School was the fourth giveaway in less than a week.

Like the San Diego Unified School District, La Mesa-Spring Valley was lucky enough to receive test kits from the California Department of Education before the two-week holiday break.

Angel Hardman usually subs in the district as an administration assistant. Monday she was a distribution coordinator, happy to give parents what they have desperately been seeking for their children.

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Angel Hardman distributes COVID-19 home test kits to families in the La Mesa Spring Valley District, Jan. 3, 2021
Matthew Bowler / KPBS
Angel Hardman distributes COVID-19 home test kits to families in the La Mesa Spring Valley District, Jan. 3, 2021

“I think the parents are very ready to send them back to school but overall they’re just thankful to have a test to get, just thankful to get one,” she said.

Hardman said at one of the earlier giveaways, a parent was so appreciative he brought back lunch for distribution workers.

Jasmine Alvarado was in line Monday with her young daughter in the back seat. She told KPBS the family had traveled and been around relatives over the holidays.

“We’ve got omicron wild everywhere," she said. "We’ve all heard stories knowing somebody who’s getting it and it’s better to be safe before our kids get back into the loop of everything.”

While San Diego Unified and other districts started back Monday, La Mesa-Spring Valley schools will return Tuesday morning.

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Superintendent David Feliciano is committed to turning the ongoing pandemic into a positive for his staff and students.

“I think it’s time for people to get excited and united behind the task of education. It needs to be about putting kids first,” he said.

The child care industry has long been in crisis, and COVID-19 only made things worse. Now affordable, quality care is even more challenging to find, and staff are not paid enough to stay in the field. This series spotlights people each struggling with their own childcare issues, and the providers struggling to get by.