Castaic asks attendees of D.C. trip to self-quarantine

Castaic Union School District Building. Dan Watson/The Signal
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As schools in the Santa Clarita Valley enter their first week of online learning, Castaic Middle School students and parents who traveled to Washington, D.C., are being asked to self-quarantine after a person on the trip tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Though the group of approximately 40 staff, students and parents were originally in Washington, D.C., to attend the Student Television Network Convention 2020, the conference was later canceled amid public health concerns.

“Our students left on March 8, as their parents wanted to go early so they could do some sightseeing and visit museums,” said Fred Malcomb, president of the Castaic Union School District’s board of trustees. “They were already traveling and on their way before the (William S.) Hart (Union High School District) made the decision to pull their kids.” 

Superintendent Steve Doyle and district leadership had a conversation with the trip’s attendees when they arrived, planning to help coordinate travel arrangements so they could return home, but a collective decision was made by parents to stay in Washington, D.C., and proceed with the trip, Malcomb said. 

“It wasn’t a school-funded trip, it was funded with private money, and parents were with (their kids),” Malcomb said. “We are not in a position to demand students and parents on a private trip to come home, so all we could do was provide support and help them.” 

On Sunday, as the group prepared to return home, CUSD officials got word that a member of the group had a fever and was seeking medical attention, Malcomb added.

“That person had to stay behind and is being quarantined in Washington, D.C.,” Malcomb said, adding that the person was later confirmed to test positive for COVID-19. 

Because the rest of the group members were not showing symptoms, public health officials in Washington, D.C., allowed them to travel home, where they were instructed to self-quarantine. 

CUSD officials emailed parents Sunday night to inform them of the situation. 

“I was informed that an individual attending the Student Television Network Conference in Washington, D.C., with our Castaic Middle School group this past week has tested positive for COVID-19,” Doyle wrote in the email. “Public health officials are aware and providing guidance. At this time, the best thing we can do is to self-quarantine and monitor your health and the health of loved ones.”

CUSD officials will be in continuous contact with each of the families as they continue to monitor the situation, Malcomb said. 

“We’re all so sorry this happened to our community, but now all we can do is be positive and do what we can to provide support and help,” Malcomb added. “As a district, we’re going to do everything we can to support them.”

Doyle’s email also included a list of steps to take in preventing the contraction of COVID-19 and continuing to practice good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
  • Get vaccinated for the flu if you have not already done so.
  • Avoid gathering or meeting in large groups.
  • If you feel for any reason your child may have or has been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your doctor immediately. Virus symptoms can range from mild to severe and could include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

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