Students test positive for COVID-19 at Lassen County schools, one case current at LHS

Students at four different Lassen County schools — Long Valley, Johnstonville, Shaffer and Lassen High School — have tested positive for COVID-19, but school officials say the situation is under control. The Long Valley, Johnstonville and Shaffer infections occurred earlier this school year. The LHS infection is current.

The news broke in Lassen County when Morgan Nugent, LHS’ principal/superintendent sent a letter to parents advising them of a student testing positive at the high school.

When asked about the positive test result at LHS Friday morning, Patty Gunderson, Lassen County superintendent of schools, reported the three positive COVID-19 test results at the three other schools from earlier this year.

BJ Hubbard, human resources director at LHS, confirmed the COVID-19 case at the high school.

“We had a student test positive for COVID,” Hubbard said Friday morning. “At this point we are still in session. Until public health gives us further guidance, we’re going to continue as is. They began their tracing because we have assigned seating at the high school and so public health has been able to review who may have come in contact with the student for 15 minutes or longer, and they’ve begun to reach out to those people. Until public health tells us we have additional cases or we have too many cases so we have to close, we’re going to remain in session … Here on campus we know pretty much who the students have been around.”


County superintendent’s response

Gunderson said the response to the positive test at the high school is probably more complicated because the high school students do not spend their entire day in a single classroom as they do in elementary school.

But she is not alarmed, and she is confident the procedures and practices already in place will be able to control the situation.

“It’s all part of what we planned for,” Gunderson said. “They (the schools) all have their plans in place. We’ve got such a great relationship with the county health department right now, and they have been fabulous. We have a procedure in place. The county’s school nurse monitors all the students sent home from school. She works very closely with the health department, and they determine quarantine or testing.”

She said she’s excited to see the process created to respond to COVID-19 infections in the schools is working as designed. She said there is one person in place — the district’s nurse — who coordinates the response with the schools and the county health department.

“So far so good,” Gunderson said. “We’ll tweak it if we need to.”

While this is the first positive case at LHS, she said the other schools have already dealt with the three previous cases. She said with assigned seating at the high school, it has been able to identify students who have come in close contact with the infected student.

According to Gunderson, after the positive test results at Long Valley, Johnstonville and Shaffer, those three schools shifted to distance learning for 14 days before returning to on-site instruction.

“Our procedures and plans are working as they’re supposed to,” Gunderson said.

So what happens if a student might have been exposed to the virus at school?

“Parents have the choice,” Gunderson said. “They can either go for testing or they can quarantine for 14 days. If they test them and they come back negative, they could possibly return sooner.”


Nugent’s letter to parents

Dear parents and guardians,

I wanted to inform you that today we have had our first positive COVID case. We knew that sooner or later we would have a student or staff test positive for this and we are thankful that we almost made it through October. We are currently working directly with Public Health to determine the next steps for our school. It is our desire to stay open for school during this time period and not shut down for 10 school days unless we have a larger outbreak. If your child has any of the symptoms below, please have your child stay home and get tested as necessary.

Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea.

We want to make sure that we are able to keep our doors open to educate your child while protecting the safety of our other students and staff. We appreciate the 100+ students this year whose parents have kept their child home when they were sick. Your attention to the health of your children has kept our doors open and will help to ensure that we stay open down the road.


Morgan Nugent