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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Though the COVID-19 pandemic shows no end in sight amid the surging spread of the Delta variant, Capistrano Unified School District students who show no symptoms of the virus can continue attending classes in-person, CUSD announced on Friday, Aug. 27.

Under modified safety regulations that went into effect on Monday, Aug. 30, unvaccinated students who were within 6 feet of someone who tested positive can remain on campus if they show no symptoms, wear masks indoors, and if the person who tested positive was also masked indoors.

Masks are required to be worn indoors at CUSD campuses by children and adults, per California Department of Public Health regulations.

If no masks were worn indoors, students must stay home for a minimum of seven days, though they are permitted to return if they test negative after the fifth day.

Students in close contact with someone who tests positive must also not be involved with extracurricular activities, sports, or clubs outside the typical school day.

Fully vaccinated students do not have to stay home if they do not display symptoms. Students who test positive must stay home for 10 days.

“Students who may not attend school because they are quarantining will be on short-term independent study, which does not include daily live instruction,” the district guidelines said. “However, they will have access to all curricula and assignments through Canvas. Any student who is ill will not be required to complete their work until they are feeling better.”

Free COVID-19 self-testing kits for students are available at all school sites, and students can administer them at home.

The new guidelines come as cases continue to rise because of the Delta variant. The school year kicked off on Aug. 17. As of Tuesday, Aug. 31, there were 43 schools listed as having at least one confirmed case.

San Clemente High and Dana Hills High reported 11 and 12 active cases, respectively—the most of any school currently within the district, according to CUSD’s online dashboard of confirmed cases. SCHS has 3,064 students enrolled for in-person instruction, while DHHS has 2,182 students enrolled.

Cases on the dashboard remain there for 14 days from initial symptoms or test date.

Among San Clemente’s other schools, there were two cases at Bernice Ayer Middle School; three at Las Palmas Elementary School; two at Marblehead Elementary School; four at Shorecliffs Middle School; three at Truman Benedict Middle School; and seven at Vista Del Mar Middle School.

In Dana Point, there were eight cases at Palisades Elementary School and two at RH Dana Exceptional Needs Facility.

And in San Juan Capistrano, there were four cases at Ambuehl Elementary School; four at Marco Forster Middle School; three at San Juan Elementary School; three at San Juan Hills High School; and six at Wagon Wheel Elementary School.

In Rancho Mission Viejo, there were four cases at Esencia K-8.

In schools whose boundaries include those cities, there were eight cases at Capistrano Valley High School; two at Fred Newhart Middle School; two at Moulton Elementary School; three at Niguel Hills Middle School; three at Tesoro High School; and four at Viejo Elementary School.

Those figures represented an increase from case numbers in early June, when only Vista Del Mar Elementary School and Niguel Hills Middle School had one case each.

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at

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