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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 95  |  November 27, 2020

COVID-19 surge delays opening of Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School


Laguna Beach Unified School District Superintendent Jason Viloria announced Wednesday that Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School will remain closed at least until after the winter break. 

The delay is in response to a surge in the number of reported COVID-19 cases locally and statewide, based on information from the Orange County Health Care Agency in accordance with the State Department of Public Health Framework. 

County schools that had reopened prior to the surge are allowed to continue with in-person learning, including Laguna’s elementary schools that reopened October 5. Laguna Beach secondary schools were to reopen November 23. 

A January reopening depends on when Orange County moves up to the red from the purple tier, the most restrictive in the state’s hierarchy.

To move up, the county must spend a minimum of three weeks in the purple tier, followed by two consecutive weeks in the red tier.

Viloria also announced on Wednesday that COVID-19 testing on Monday revealed that 11 of the 360 students expected to return to classes had tested positive for the virus. 

The 11 students were directed to quarantine themselves. 

Contact tracing turned up another 30 students to be quarantined. The number will continue to grow as additional tracing is conducted, according to Viloria. 

The district will offer another round of student COVID-19 testing prior to secondary schools reopening when that date is identified.

Viloria asked parents to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and to report any known cases to their child’s school nurse. 

School nurse contact information was provided.

--Top of the World Elementary and Thurston Middle School:

Kelly Schultz, RN, MSN: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

--El Morro and Laguna Beach High School:

Pam Majd, RN, MSN: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

High risk symptoms include a cough, difficulty in breathing, and loss of taste or smell. Low risk symptoms include a low fever, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, headache, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, or fatigue/muscle or body aches.

Viloria also encouraged families to observe the state’s updated travel advisory, released on November 13, which states that, “Persons arriving in California from other states or countries, including returning California residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival.” 

This includes students who may be traveling for the holidays or who have traveled out of state for club sports.

Wednesday’s announcement followed two days of communications from the Superintendent. 

On Monday, Viloria communicated that previous guidance had indicated the district could reopen the middle and high schools even if Orange County moved into the purple tier on Tuesday, as the CDPH Framework was adjusted on Tuesdays, and the restrictions in purple tier would not have been in effect until late next week. 

“We were also operating under the guidance that since we had reopened classes and a learning center for students with disabilities and English Learners, we would be permitted to continue our planned reopening,” Viloria stated.

“However, the guidance has been updated to indicate that even though we have opened selected programs, we cannot commence in-person instruction for all grade levels.”

Parents will be updated as the district gets more information, Viloria stated. Specifically, parents will be informed about the Trimester 2 distance learning by the site principal.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

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