Vista Unified School District Calls Special Board Meeting – 5 Student COVID Cases So Far

Hundreds of students and more than a dozen teachers have been told to quarantine as a result of student COVID-19 cases

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The Vista Unified School District is holding a special board meeting Tuesday evening to review the status of the district’s in-class teaching model known as Vista Classic.

Board members called the special 6 p.m. meeting on Monday shortly after the district confirmed its third and fourth coronavirus cases among students since campuses reopened Oct. 20. Then Tuesday afternoon, the district confirmed its fifth case was a student at Mission Meadows Elementary School.

So far the cases have forced hundreds of students and more than a dozen teachers across four schools into two-week quarantine. An update on staffing demands as a result of teacher quarantines is planned for Tuesday's meeting.

Parents in the district were given the option of the Vista Classic model or virtual learning and about half of the district chose to send their students to class.

Two first two cases, confirmed last Thursday and Sunday respectively, involved students at Mission Vista High School. The cases, which the district said are unrelated, led to the quarantine of 280 students and eight teachers.

On Monday, the district announced a student at Roosevelt Middle School had tested positive. That case sent 96 students and seven teachers into quarantine.

Also on Monday, a positive case was confirmed at Alamosa Park Elementary. Two staff members have been quarantined according to the teacher’s union president. It’s not known how many students have been quarantine.

It's also unknown if any students or teachers will be quarantined as a result of the latest case at Mission Meadows Elementary.

The district’s classic 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.

It’s not clear if the board will make any immediate changes to the in-class teaching model. In a community message posted on the district's website, Superintendent Matthew Doyle suggested classes will move forward.

“After two hours of dialogue about health and safety procedures, I asked him (Dr. John D. Malone with county Health and Human Services Dept.) whether or not we should open Vista Classic for in-person learning on campus. His answer was, “Absolutely!” He then added, “Thank you for your courage to do this.” He mentioned that it is normal for some portion of the organization and the community to be fearful of attempting to resume critical social service like education. He stated that the COVID-19 virus will not be going away for a number of years. He said that even when there is a vaccine, there will be many members of the community, including students, that will not the vaccine initially, prolonging the recovery or the whole community," Doyle's message said.

Doyle said a county doctor inspected Mission Vista High School last Friday.

Meanwhile, many parents are still upset with news of the positive cases.

“You’re putting people together in enclosed places, so close to each other that it’s going to spread. How can I not be upset, these are my co-workers, these are my students, these are my son’s friends, my neighbors,” said Martha Huerta Smith, a secretary at Roosevelt Middle School. Her son is a virtual learner at Roosevelt.

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