Pioneer Elementary School. Photo credit: Courtesy, Escondido Union School District

The Escondido Union School District has put a hold on in-person learning after a surge of new COVID-19 cases over the weekend sent some 120 students and staff members into quarantine. Campuses will remain closed through Jan. 11, the district said.

“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution, as well as out of a commitment to providing a rigorous educational program for our students,” Superintendent Luis Rankins-Ibarra said. “We know this decision directly impacts our families, we know that it’s far from ideal, but this was the right decision at this time.”

The district, which serves nearly 15,000 students in preschool through Grade 8, conducts contact tracing whenever a positive case is confirmed, and directs those affected to begin a 14-day quarantine.

Exposure to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were in attendance on any of the district’s 23 campuses while in an infectious state has resulted in the quarantine of 193 students and 37 employees in December so far, and a total of 655 students and 151 employees since September 28, district officials said.

During the time campuses are shut down, students will follow the district’s Virtual Hybrid Model at home. Families will receive information from their school’s principal about any learning materials that will be distributed, and school offices will be staffed to handle site-specific support and technology issues.

No-cost, to-go meal service will continue throughout the suspension. Food will be available according to the community feeding schedule: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at all school sites through December 18. During winter break, meal distribution will take place at Mission Middle School, and Central, Farr, Felicita, Glen View, Juniper, and Lincoln elementary schools. Distribution will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the following dates: December 21, December 23, December 28, December 30, January 4, and January 6.

— Staff report