MURRIETA (CBSLA) — A Riverside County school is taking precautionary steps to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19.

Officials said Friday that an employee at Murrieta Valley High School is showing symptoms of an illness and is being tested for coronavirus after recently traveling to a country with a known outbreak.

The school is temporarily closed as that employee undergoes testing for the virus. Meantime, the campus will be disinfected.

(credit: CBS)

“The health and safety of our students is our first concern,” said Murrieta Valley Unified School District Superintendent Pat Kelley said. “This decision was made to ensure their health.”

Some parents showed up Saturday morning at the school for regularly scheduled weekend activities — unaware of the closure after an email announcement was sent Friday night.

“They’re not saying who, what, so it’s concerning because we don’t know if our kids were exposed to it,” said parent Sarai Mendoza.

Public health officials said 71 students may have come into contact with the employee who’s being tested for coronavirus and were told to self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.

“While I want to reassure the students, families and staff at MVHS that the risk of transmission is low, I support the school district’s decision to temporarily close the school until testing is complete,” said Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Wednesday in response to the outbreak as cases in the state continues to grow.

“The State of California is deploying every level of government to help identify cases and slow the spread of this coronavirus,” said Newsom. “This emergency proclamation will help the state further prepare our communities and our health care system in the event it spreads more broadly.”

Riverside County residents are encouraged to monitor the county’s coronavirus web page for latest news about the illness.

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