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Vista Unified Rethinking Reopening Plan Following Virus Outbreaks

Exterior of Vista Unified School District office. October 27, 2020

Photo by Tania Thorne

Above: Exterior of Vista Unified School District office. October 27, 2020

UPDATED: 10/28/2020

In last night’s meeting, Vista Unified School district officials decided to pivot Mission Vista High School back to virtual learning following, two COVID outbreaks within 14 days.

Mission Vista High School students will return to virtual learning starting Thursday for 14 days and are expected to return to in person learning on November 9th.

Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

During the meeting, Craig Wiblemo, executive director of the Vista student support services, explained the method they're using is the model New York City has been using.

“In a nutshell, two cases within a school will shut down the school for a period of 14 days,” he said. “That can lead to obviously the entire school converting to virtual for a period of two weeks.”

In a message to parents, Mission Vista High School principal Jeremy Walden said, “This decision was made based on the need to maintain a conservative approach to health and safety, and to ensure there is sufficient staffing to support student learning on campus.”

Brian Platte, a senior at Mission Vista High school says he is sad about the closing but understands the staff shortage the district faces with the large quarantines.

“I’m super sad about it. I know lots of people that are super sad about it,” he said. “But there’s accurate reasoning. We can’t maintain the school for that long, and there aren't enough subs in the district.”

As of now, two new COVID cases have been recorded on the district website. One is at Mission Meadows Elementary and one at Alta Vista High School.

The other cases are at Mission Vista High School, Alamosa Park Elementary, and Roosevelt Middle School.


Since the opening on Oct. 20, four positive COVID-19 cases have sent hundreds of students into quarantine in Vista.

Two COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at Mission Vista High School, one at Roosevelt Middle School and one at Alamosa Park Elementary.

Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

The number of students quarantined have pushed the Vista Unified School District to call a special virtual board meeting to review and revise the school reopening plan and learning model structure as needed.

The virtual meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Vista Teachers Association President, Kari Avila, says these were the outbreaks teachers were concerned about when they rallied outside of the last board meeting, as the district moved forward with reopening schools.

“A week ago we sounded the alarm of many of our educators saying that our working conditions weren’t ready to return yet and they pushed forward to get it done quickly and now here we are,” she said. “We have four outbreaks within a week. We have hundreds of teachers and students quarantined.”

Vista Unified School District Superintendent Matt Doyle released a Community update Tuesday, in which he talked about "Vista Classic" learning, meaning in-person classes.

“When we locate COVID-19 positive cases," the update said, "we are compelled to quarantine large numbers of students and staff. This level of quarantine will have an impact on our ability to maintain a viable Vista Classic model. If this trend continues, we will be forced to pivot back to Vista Virtual -- not due to the COVID-19 virus, but rather due to the lack of available staff to fully support the Vista Classic learning environment.”

Patrick Emus is a teacher at Rancho Buena Vista High School and vice president of the teachers association. He said the Vista Classic is a model that isn’t sustainable in a COVID-19-era world.

“It's called Vista Classic which is a brand that has nostalgia for the way school used to be,” he said. “Just naming it Vista Classic was a really unfortunate link that was so divisive because it can't be like it used to be.”

To stream the virtual Vista School Board meeting click here.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

For yet another week, San Diego County avoided dropping into the dreaded purple tier - the most restrictive level in California's coronavirus monitoring system. The county’s adjusted case rate on Tuesday was 6.5 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population. Plus, More school reopening details were released for San Diego Unified, meanwhile Vista School district is sending students into quarantine ... Read more →

Aired: October 28, 2020 | Transcript

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Photo of Tania Thorne

Tania Thorne
North County Reporter

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