Weed, Mount Shasta high schools struggle to stay open after rash of COVID-19 exposures

Mike Meyer
Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers

Two weeks after school started, nearly half the students enrolled at Weed High School are in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19. As a result, they will not be attending classes in person, and will instead be on independent study, said Mike Matheson, superintendent of the Siskiyou Union High School District.

At the same time, about 100 Mount Shasta High School students have also been put on quarantine after an exposure, Matheson said, as well as 16 students at Happy Camp High School.

"At this point we are working to stay 'in person,'" Matheson said. "We will see what the next few days bring."

The scholls are closed Monday due to the Labor Day holiday.

Schools are struggling to keep their doors open because as teachers are exposed to the virus or become sick, there is a shortage of substitute teachers to take their place. 

"There are no available substitutes at this time," Matheson said.

"Like other high schools around the state it's a daily challenge at the district because of the rise in COVID numbers, which in Siskiyou county is worse than ever,” Matheson said.

Siskiyou County had 365 active cases of COVID-19 on September 3, compared to 271 the week before. Thirteen people were hospitalized as of Friday, and there have been 41 total deaths.

Matheson explained how the number of students in quarantine quickly escalates.

"One positive person spending the day on campus probably comes in contact with 80 or 100 people," he said. "So those people become close contacts, and so also need to quarantine. That's what we're faced with right now."