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COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Winter Gardens Elementary School in Lakeside

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Posted at 11:05 AM, Dec 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-04 19:24:10-05

LAKESIDE, Calif. (KGTV) -- Officials with the Lakeside Union School District confirmed the closure of Winter Gardens Elementary School due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

In a letter sent to families and school personnel Thursday, LUSD Superintendent Dr. Andy Johnsen acknowledged that “there have been 12 positive cases identified at Winter Gardens over the last two weeks” and because of the outbreak, the campus on 8501 Pueblo Rd. would be closed for 15 days starting Dec. 4.

The school’s Extended School Services (ESS) will also be shut down.

Dr. Johnsen said they closed the school Friday as, "all of the other cases we've had up until this point no other person has been identified as a close contact."

Winter Gardens Elementary will proceed with distance learning from Dec. 4-18, according to Dr. Johnsen. The initial plan is to reopen the campus for in-person learning on Jan. 4.

Dr. Johnsen noted that “staff members and students that may have come into close contact with the positive individuals have been directly contacted by San Diego County Public Health with further instructions.”

“Because of how COVID-19 spreads, public health officials have indicated that all of us should consider ourselves as being potentially exposed,” Dr. Johnsen said in the letter.

Dr. Johnsen said the infections likely originated off-campus. A La Jolla Immunologist agreed with that theory, saying on the molecular level adults are more likely to pass the virus to each other and not get it from children.

Dr. Johnsen said the 12 infections is out of 308 students and staff combined. He said public health officials recommend closing schools when they reach a 5% infection threshold.

He said students and staff were wearing masks, socially distant and the district hired cleaning staff to sanitize high touch points each hour and classrooms overnight.

When the school reopens, Dr. Johnsen said they will not make any changes to their protocol, adding the district and public health officials support the procedures they have in place.

Johnsen would not identify how many students and staff each were infected, due to privacy laws.