San Bernardino schools reopen with help of liaison program to manage all things COVID-related

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- As kids re-enter the classroom again, teachers are busy teaching and students are busy learning -- so who is left to watch out for COVID-19?

One local school district found an answer and the solution is working for them.

When San Bernardino City Unified School District welcomed students back to the class earlier this month, they didn't do it alone.

"We knew that this was a big lift. We wanted our students to come back and feel safe. We wanted our staff to come back and feel safe. We wanted our community to feel safe, but we also knew that our staff that we have, already have jobs," said Eric Vetere, emergency manager of San Bernardino City Unified School District.

Serving 47,000 students across 72 schools with 8,000 employees, district officials knew managing the ever-changing COVID-19 rules would be a challenge. It's why they enlisted the help of AM LLC's COVID liaison program.

"We have one liaison on every campus and they're responsible for all things COVID. So if students come in experiencing symptoms, if parents call and say their child is home sick, they will liaison with that family to determine is it COVID-related. Is it simply allergy season and it's something of that nature and we can get that student back onto class? They also provide testing services," said Vetere.

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Chief Operating Officer of AM LLC, Erin Thames says the COVID liaison program is tailor made to meet each school district's needs.

"We've hired over 100 staff members to help with this COVID response just in San Bernardino city," said Thames.

From managing sick students, COVID-testing and communicating with parents and staff, the COVID liaison is the point-person with access to licensed clinicians, if necessary.

"COVID is scary, it's a word that elicits some type of emotion in all of us and making sure that we have the right staff in place to have those conversations where we are building rapport, we're helping people feel at ease, we're helping know what are their next steps so a student isn't sent home and the parent is left with dozens of questions of what do I do next, when can my child come back to school, do I have to get tested, do I not have to get tested. We're there to have all those follow up conversations as well," said Thames.

"AM has definitely been a solution for our school district. They've come in and allowed our educators to focus on our scholars," said Vetere.

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