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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Another Mission Vista High School student tests positive for COVID-19

Administrators said this is unrelated to the previous case from last week.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Another student has tested positive for coronavirus at Mission Vista High School, according to Vista Unified School District. Administrators said this is unrelated to a previous case from last week that forced more than 130 students to quarantine.

The school has reached out to the students and teachers who may have been exposed and they will be in quarantine through next week. 

The principal said the school is in close contact with the district team to closely monitor the situation.

“While the incidences of COVID-19 cases at MVHS are below the CDPH guidelines of a 5% threshold for school closure (which would be 50 cases), there are other unintended impacts that may cause us to consider pivoting to virtual learning,” Principal Jeremy Walden said.

Administrators said the student had mild nasal congestion Thursday afternoon and woke up with a sore throat on Friday morning.

On Sunday, a letter was sent to faculty and staff by the principal at Mission Vista High School informing them of the student in question who was on campus Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week.

Vista Unified School District released the following statement on Monday in regards the incident:

"Vista Unified has a dual obligation to our community during this challenging time. We are obligated to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and staff, while, at the same time, we are obligated to provide access to engaging, standards-based instruction on campus, in-person as much as possible. During the Vista Classic program implementation, Vista Unified is careful to keep all of our learning environments safe. Our COVID-19 identification and contact tracing protocol continues to work as designed to proactively seek out, identify any contacts or positive cases on our campuses, and isolate these cases immediately. We received notification on Sunday, October 26th of a second student who tested positive for COVID-19 who attended Mission Vista High School last week. This is an isolated case of a single student and is not related to the other positive case at Mission Vista High School. The student attended school on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The student did not attend on Friday. The student was tested and found to be positive on Sunday. The parents notified us that the student likely contracted the virus while traveling on a club athletic team not affiliated with school. We immediately notified all parents, students and staff who may have come into contact with the student. The student did not come into close contact with every student; however, we are proceeding with an abundance of caution and considering each of these approximately 150 students and the four classroom teachers as close contacts of the COVID-19 positive person. These students and staff members were placed into a 14-day quarantine at home in accordance with the Decision Guide requirements. Their classes will pivot to the virtual learning model using Canvas and Zoom as their learning platform. Vista Unified has utilized the COVID-19 Decision Tree and Guidelines as an effective tool to seek out, identify and isolate possible cases in our schools. Just about every school district in the county that has students and staff on campus in the past few months has had cases in category three. Most school districts keep a dashboard of the total student and/or teacher cases in category three. You can see our COVID-19 Case Dashboard on the Health and Safety webpage."

An employee with the district’s transportation department told News 8, "We see kids walking into Mission Vista wearing no masks in large groups and they're just walking in."

 The employee did not want to be identified. He's worried and said district officials haven't told drivers if one of the infected students was ever on their bus.

In addition, he claims safety protocols are inconsistent.

 "You know three kids to a seat," he said. "There used to be a seat behind the driver for social distancing.  They said that's not an empty seat anymore.  You got to put kids there."

 He and his co-workers sent a letter to the district detailing their concerns.

According to the district's COVID-19 safety dashboard, it has recorded five cases since Sept. 8, and just one since Oct. 20.

The Vista Unified School District, fully reopened its 28 schools last Tuesday, eschewing some of the more cautious measures some other districts are taking, moving into its Phase 3 reopening plan. The "Vista Classic" plan allows every school in the district to reopen at full capacity. Parents and guardians will still be able to keep students in "Vista Virtual," the district's distance-learning program, if they so choose.

"Our health and safety measures were working well, with mask wearing and handwashing particularly strong on all campuses," Vista Superintendent Matt Doyle said after visiting campuses Tuesday. "We will continue to refine arrival, dismissal, and lunchtime routines for students as they relearn how to interact with their friends in this new social distancing environment."

The district said it will attempt to have social distancing as much as possible, but will allow as many as 38 students in a single classroom, so desks will not be spaced six feet apart.

A rally Oct. 15 by teachers and parents at Foothill Oaks Elementary School attempted to dissuade the Vista Unified School Board from reopening, with many educators believing the safety measures inadequate.

Plexiglass barriers were not provided to teachers. Instead, they were given PVC pipes and plastic liner to create makeshift protection from students returning to in-person learning.