Santa Barbara Unified Mandates COVID Testing

By Nick Masuda   |   January 18, 2022

With COVID-19 numbers skyrocketing all over Santa Barbara County, mostly due to the Omicron variant, the Santa Barbara Unified School District installed mandatory testing for students and staff on January 10.

While the county deals with an overall shortage of tests, SBUSD indicated that it had plenty on hand to test every student (roughly 13,000) and staffer.

According to Superintendent Hilda Maldonado, the district had seen an influx in cases following the return from Winter Break and ultimately consulted with Santa Barbara County Public Health to devise a plan.

With the goal of keeping healthy children in brick-and-mortar classrooms, SBUSD and SBCPH decided to put a pause on contact tracing and instead test students to get a complete picture of the status of the virus in schools.

It also put a temporary pause on all extracurricular activities, including athletics.

In the first week back at school, SBUSD said it had roughly 1,900 absences, although not all were directly attributed to COVID-19, indicating that just more than 150 students tested positive for the virus on campus.

The district has also been focusing efforts on providing vaccinations to students, staff, and the community, hosting a free vaccine clinic on January 8 at McKinley Elementary that saw more than 800 people get shots, inclusive of the flu vaccine. The January 8 clinic, a cooperative effort between SBUSD and SBCPH, was a product of weeks of planning, led by SBUSD’s Lead Family Engagement Coordinator and Santa Barbara City Councilperson Alejandra Gutierrez, as well as McKinley Elementary Interim Principal Suzette McCormick and throngs of volunteers.

Updates on the Highway 101 Project

Not that the unpredictable traffic is any secret at this point, but there are more important updates on the Highway 101 Project via the latest construction update that covers January 9-22, 2022.

There are a pair of lane shifts that could cause drivers a bit of a surprise between Romero Creek and Sheffield Drive, including:

Northbound: On the night of January 11, north of Sheffield Drive, crews shifted lanes onto new pavement. 

Southbound: On the night of January 10, north of Sheffield Drive, crews shifted lanes onto the new southbound lanes.

In addition, the off-ramp at Sheffield Drive has an anticipated reopening of January 18, but until the ramp opens, drivers can use the southbound off-ramp at San Ysidro Road. According to a news release, when the southbound off-ramp at Sheffield Drive reopens, crews will stop flagging on San Ysidro Road as a detour will no longer be adding traffic to the intersections.

After the Sheffield Drive off-ramp reopens, work will shift to the Evans Avenue off-ramp, anticipated to close on January 23.

For more, including updates on road projects, visit


You might also be interested in...

  • Woman holding phone

    Support the
    Santa Barbara non-profit transforming global healthcare through telehealth technology