Rancho Minerva Middle School is now the fifth campuses in the Vista Unified School District to close to students temporarily due to coronavirus cases involving students and staff.
The announcement from the district came Monday. Students are expected to be able to return to campus Nov. 12, according to the district. District campuses opened for in-person learning Oct. 20
The district also confirmed Monday a case involving a student at T.H.E. Leadership Academy Elementary School. The campus remains open for in-person learning, but one 28-student classroom and its teacher will pivot to Vista Virtual, the district's distance learning model, until Nov. 12.
Four other VUSD campuses -- Mission Vista High School, Vista High School, Madison Middle School and Roosevelt Middle School -- have already suspended in-person learning for the same reason.
Just a week after campuses opened for in-person learning, cases among the on-campus community forced the district to activate a series of school closure protocols that will see campuses temporarily close to students if certain coronavirus case criteria are triggered.
- If there are two or more positive student or staff cases at a school, the entire campus will close for two weeks and students will shift to the "Vista Virtual" (distance learning) model.
- If there are three secondary schools (middle school, high school, or a combo campus) with at least one positive student or staff case, each campus will close for two weeks and students will shift to Vista Virtual.
- If the county shifts to Purple Tier (Tier 4) while any school site is in a two-week closure, students will stay in Vista Virtual until the county moves out of Purple Tier.
While campuses are closed temporarily to students, staff who haven't been told to quarantine will be working from campus, the district said.
As of Monday there were 18 confirmed cases invovlving students and staff across 13 campuses since Oct. 20.
Hundreds of students and dozens of students have been forced into quarantine as a result of exposure, and the district said it's dealing with a teacher shortage because so many staffers were suddenly unable to work, and also because fewer substitute teachers are willing to take jobs.
On Friday, the district announced their case total had jumped to 14 -- 13 students and one staff member -- including three at the high school level, two at the continuation school level, two at the middle school level, and seven at the elementary school level.
|Alamosa Park Elementary School||1|
|Beaumont Elementary School||2|
|Foothill Oak Elementary School||1|
|Hannalei Elementary School||1|
|Mission Meadows Elementary School||1|
|T.H.E. Leadership Academy Elementary School||1|
|Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts||1|
|Madison Middle School||1|
|Rancho Miverna Middle School||2|
|Roosevelt Middle School||1|
|Alta Vista High School||2|
|Mission Vista High School||2|
|Vista High School||2|
The district said it has come up with a four-layer testing framework, but has yet to implement it at every school.
Layer 1 - We have implemented a mandatory testing rotation for all teachers and staff who work on every school campus in the district. It is our goal to have employees tested every 45 days.
Layer 2 - We have developed a partnership with the Vista Community Clinic to expand mobile testing at schools throughout the district. This testing is available to parents, students, teachers, and staff.
Layer 3 - We have joined the Safer at School Early Alert pilot that the University of California at San Diego is leading countywide to design a system of non-invasive COVID-19 testing of wastewater and surface particles for signs of the virus. This study includes voluntary testing of students and staff weekly.
Layer 4 - We are in the final stages of partnering with the San Diego Health and Human Services Department and the City of Vista to open a high volume COVID-19 testing center in Vista for all residents, students, and staff members. The center will be open seven days a week and provide up to 800 tests a day.
The district’s in-person teaching model has come under criticism from the teacher’s union, whose president said social distancing protocols are difficult to follow because classrooms are too crowded.
“It’s such a disruptive system for kids to go under quarantine, come back in, go under quarantine, come back in. How can we bring down the anxiety of our community when there’s such a disruption of student learning,” said Keri Avila, president of the Vista Teachers Association.
Of school districts that have reopened, some are disclosing the number of active cases online. Vista Unified is not the only district that has reported positive cases among on-campus students and staff. It was, however, the first district to temporarily close schools in response to cases.