SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The San Bernardino City Unified School District has partnered with a company to bring COVID liaisons to each campus. They are tasked with handling “all things COVID,” so educators can focus on teaching the students.
Eva Sandoval needs to conduct risk assessments is a COVID liaison for several school campuses in San Bernardino. She maintains a PPE kit she regularly restocks.
"The masks, thermometer, I have hand sanitizer in here," Sandoval said.
Graduating last year with a degree in health science, she says she never expected to be thrown into the real world in the middle of a pandemic. But it was her college courses and professors that really prepared her for what was to come.
"We kind of understood how the community was going to be affected in advance, as far as, there are going to be underserved communities who are not going to understand all the protocols, all the guidelines, all the information that is being put out with COVID," said Sandoval.
Sandoval wanted to be the one to help her underserved community. It’s what led her to become a COVID liaison for AM LLC, an organization that partners with school districts to handle all things COVID-19.
All 70 of the brick-and-mortar K-12 schools in the San Bernardino City Unified School District have their own COVID liaison on site. The liaisons are managed out of a dispatch center.
If there’s a COVID case or surge at one school, program manager Jade Stuart says the dispatch center is where additional nurses and liaison are dispatched from.
"So, yeah! This is kind of where all the action happens,” Stuart said.
Up until now, the liaisons referred all students out to nearby public health sites for testing, but now they’re certified to provide those rapid tests directly.
And when she does get a call, Sandoval is ready to answer with any resources a parent or staff member needs, in English and in Spanish.
The calls range from questions about symptoms, if a child is cleared to return to school after exposure and where they can go to get tested.
As of September 16, the district had 102 reported COVID cases, 84 students and 18 staff.
The safety and emergency manager for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, Eric Vetere, says having the COVID Liaisons has allowed their educators to focus on teaching the students instead of worrying about how to manage outbreaks.
“I feel the anxiety that comes with COVID and an unknown environment, and I want to assure our community and our family that we’re all doing what’s right by our students and our staff," said Vetere.
This school district is looking to get ahead of any potential exposures with the help of these liaisons.
"That’s where we step in," Sandoval said. "Provide more information, provide that communication point and be their guide.”
The liaisons are committed to navigating an ever-changing virus to help keep it outside of schools.