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New school year in San Diego, already new cases of COVID on campuses

Parents at Hilltop High in Chula Vista said they recently received a letter letting them know about multiple cases of COVID-19 on campus.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The San Diego County Office of Education confirmed several schools that recently returned to in-person learning have already had at least one positive COVID-19 case on their campuses. Parents at one of those schools, Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, said they recently received a letter letting them know about multiple cases.

The letter says the students who tested positive were sent home and contact tracing was performed to notify other students who may have been infected.

Andres Hernandez has two daughters at the school and he knew, eventually, there would be COVID on campus. The letter led to an important discussion with his children. 

“When we asked them, we said ‘Hey you want to stay home?’ and they were like, 'No. We’re done with home, so we’d rather be at school.' So as long as they feel comfortable with it, we told them 'Take the necessary precautions and you should be good.'”

Andres’ kids are vaccinated, so even if they were sitting next to an infected student in class, as long as they weren't showing any symptoms, they would be allowed to remain in school. 

Bob Mueller with the San Diego County Office of Education said positive students are sent home and contact tracing immediately starts - which is easier said than done. 

“If a student is identified as having COVID-19, the challenge is they became contagious a few days before they started to develop symptoms and by the time they're tested five days may have passed," he said.

Making things even more difficult, high schoolers change classes multiple times a day. If a student has been contact traced, is not vaccinated, and is not showing symptoms, they may be able to quarantine on campus. But most will stay home and study remotely and that leads to the question of students sent home with siblings at other schools. 

“Your other children would attend school normally and they would not be required to quarantine unless your son who went home because he was a close contact - unless he was identified with COVID,” Mueller said.

Students at Hilltop said they're not sure who tested positive, but just knowing COVID was already there is leading to questions of concern. 

“Is school going to get shut down again?” said 11th grader Mariela Flores. "[Students are] really worried because we don't want to go back to quarantine.”

WATCH RELATED: All students should wear masks in school this fall, top pediatrics group says


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