CULVER CITY, Calif. — Culver City Unified School District made national headlines when it became the first school district in the state to mandate vaccines for eligible students. But many frustrated parents, like Lisa Desai, say there was no such urgency for testing the students too young to get the shot.
She’s out of practice, Lisa Desai hasn’t been to work as a court reporter for more than a year. But the mom of two says there’s no telling when she can return to the job she loves because her daughters could be pulled out of school at any minute.
"There’s a family down the street, they had to stay home and quarantine like a week ago, another family with a 3rd grader had to stay home and quarantine, then there’s a couple of twins … I just feel like everyone around me is being called and is not able to work or they have to just drop everything to stay home with their kids," Desai explained.
At this point, Lisa says she’s just waiting for her turn, extremely concerned because her daughters are too young to get vaccinated.
Hopeless and frustrated, she wrote an urgent email to Culver City School Board members, the new superintendent and City Council pleading that they implement weekly testing to get ahead of potential COVID exposures at Culver City elementary schools.
“I don’t know what else to do! I just want the schools to do testing," Desai exclaimed.
In her email, Lisa said testing at her kids’ school is only optional and the testing company they do have only has 200 tests available for roughly 600 students at each elementary school.
She wants Culver City Unified School District to implement the same system LAUSD does, where mobile units visit each campus and all students and staff are required to test weekly.
"We feel trapped by our District’s inaction," Desai read, speaking for parents as part of her email.
But to Lisa’s surprise, right after she sent the email, she got a call from Culver City's new superintendent, Quoc Tran.
He says from the day he joined this District on August 16, his office was committed to finding a test provider they can sign a contract with.
"We should be able to test about 1,500 tests a day. That would allow everyone, students or staff to be tested once a week. We’ll get there," Tran said.
He met with Lisa, telling her they’re navigating logistic and contract challenges, but he doesn’t take the responsibility of keeping these kids safe lightly.
He’s moved to tears when he talks about the human element of education that he says goes far deeper than test scores.
"My concern is always reminding me that the connection, the context of education is to serve a family," Tran said.
“I think the wheels are in motion and the intent is there and I’m really happy. I’m really happy about that," Desai said.
Superintendent Tran says he expects to sign a contract with a testing company by Friday, September 24.