The Vista Unified School District is delaying the return of in-person learning for two high schools after receiving reports of hundreds of students attending at least two large house parties over the Halloween weekend.
The school district learned that "several hundred students" from Vista High School and Mission Vista High School attended the parties and were not practicing social distancing or wearing face coverings, according to the district.
"Public health officials have expressly warned the public about the dangers of the COVID-19 virus spreading among the attendees at large gatherings like house parties. Current guidance from the California Department of Public Health prohibits gatherings involving individuals from more than three different households," VUSD said Thursday in a letter sent to parents.
In response, the district decided to delay students' return to in-person classes by another week at both schools.
"To protect all students and staff members, we are postponing the resumption of in-person learning at both schools until Monday, November 16th," the letter said. "This will allow for a 14-day period of time to pass between these large gatherings of students and the students return to campus."
Vista High School was scheduled to return to campus on Nov. 12 and Mission Vista High School on Nov. 9.
VUSD recommended parents to get their child tested if they begin to experience any symptoms of COVID-19.
Mission Vista High School and Vista High School had suspended in-person learning due to coronavirus cases reported on campus just a week after the district opened for in-person learning.
Hundreds of students and some staff members were forced to quarantine as a result of the exposure.
VUSD teacher Patrick Emaus has been outspoken against the district's plan for bringing students back on campus, citing the high school's inability to keep students socially distant due to class sizes.
"We're teching them that being in class rooms one foot away, two feet away from their peers, eating lunch with five or six kids at a table face-to-face taking your mask off, drinking your water, we're teaching them that that's safe, so what did we expect?" Emaus said.
To keep students and staff safe and enough teachers healthy for classroom instruction, the district rule is to quarantine the whole school if two positive COVID-19 cases are detected.
"What we have here is kids home for 20 days at a time virtually to come back and have one more positive test and pivot right back to being at home," Emaus said.
NBC 7 reached out to district superintendent Matt Doyle about the decision to keep both high schools in distance learning for another week and has not heard back.
San Diego COunty is in danger of moving into California's most restrictive tier (purple tier), and if it does then any VUSD school in the midst of a temporary closure will remain closed until the county is out of the purple tier.