We first reported Tuesday evening, there is an outbreak of coronavirus cases at the Coachella Valley Unified School District offices in Thermal.
On Tuesday, CVUSD Superintendent Maria Gandera told News Channel 3 that at least three CVUSD staff members in the special education department have tested positive for COVID-19.
“On October 4, 2020 CVUSD was informed that a staff member in our special education department at the District Office had tested positive for COVID-19. That person was last onsite on October 2, 2020. Contact tracing was immediately initiated and additional staff members that may have been exposed were advised to self-quarantine and get tested,” Gandera said.
Employees who work in special education at the district office were told to work from home for at least 7 days.
Cases have continued to increase. Gandera confirmed that there was an additional case on Wednesday morning, and it is possible that at least 8 people have contracted the virus.
Riverside County Department of Public Health spokesperson Jose Arballo Jr. said that the county has confirmed five cases of infected district staff members, but that could change as they continue to investigate cases.
“A confirmation at the site level is different than the confirmation from public health. We have to see the documentation, we have to see the lab reports,” said Arballo.
Arballo said that the employees who tested positive were not around students.
“We’ve lost count of how many it is because there was actually a new one added this morning from the same basic area within the district office, and so I believe we could possibly be up to 9 or 10 within about a week and a half,” said Coachella Valley Teachers Association President Carissa Carrera.
As of Wednesday the teachers association was still trying to determine an exact number of infected employees. Carrera disagreed with the district and said they “do not feel that protocols are being handled properly at the district office. We have both called for them to shut the district office down completely and do a deep cleaning. Unfortunately the only response that we keep getting back is that they believe they’re following protocol.”
The district superintendent told News Channel 3 they were working with the county to determine how employees contracted the virus, and whether they are linked.
“When we ask them about their contact tracing and how they’re handling it, the stock answer that we get back is that the cases were not contracted at work. And I don’t really know how you can prove that,” said Carrera.
“In this case I don’t know where the beginning case is and where along the process they are. It would seem to be some of these could be related because of the time of it all and the fact that all of them are working in the same general area. But to say they’re all related, that’s something I couldn’t tell you right now,” said Arballo.
Meanwhile, in a situation away from the district offices, News Channel 3 has learned that a CVUSD employee has died. The employee, identified by the district and family as Adrian Munoz worked at a separate school.
Health officials say Munoz’s death is believed to have been related to coronavirus, however, reiterated that it is not related to the recent outbreak.