VALE — Four classes at Vale Elementary School have been suspended because four staff and one student have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to Alisha McBride, Vale School District superintendent.
McBride notified school families by letter on Sunday, Oct. 25, that the district "has been notified that individuals who have been in the Vale Elementary School building have been diagnosed with COVID-19."
The letter, delivered by email and on the district's social media channels, said the district was canceling certain in-person classes. All on-line classes will continue as scheduled.
McBride said in an email to the Enterprise that four classes involving 46 students were suspended through Thursday, Nov. 5. Parents were notified by the district's text messaging system.
She said 18 other classes would continue meeting at the school.
Because of privacy restrictions, authorities typically release few details about specific cases, including ages, the source of the contamination if known and whether those infected are under direction to quarantine.
Deep cleaning of the Vale school was underway Sunday, McBride reported, and the district is "working closely with the Malheur County Health Department to respond to this news and take steps to prioritize the health of our staff, students and community."
Under state guidelines, schools are permitted to conduct limited in-person classes in school if they follow health protocols and limit each class to 10 students. The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education have been reviewing state limits and were expected to announce revisions later this week.
But those plans may be affected by a recent surge in coronavirus cases in Oregon. The state last week reported the highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started in Oregon earlier this year. Idaho also has been setting records for infections in a state with considerably fewer limits. Gov. Brad Little on Sunday announced he would hold a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss Idaho's surging cases.
In Malheur County, smaller school districts such as Jordan Valley were allowed to return to near-normal operations. Other districts, including Vale, Nyssa and Adrian, have used limited classes to supplement virtual learning as has Four Rivers Community School in Ontario.
The Ontario School District was planning to start limited classes in early November.
In her letter, McBride reminded school district families that wearing face masks, social distancing and good hygiene can prevent the spread of the virus.
"Be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your coughs and sneezes and avoid contact with people who have signs of illness," McBride wrote.