An employee with the Astoria School District has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Superintendent Craig Hoppes relayed information about the case to parents and the community in a letter sent out Sunday. The Clatsop County Public Health Department told him about the positive case on Friday. The employee, who was working in one of the school buildings, is now in self-quarantine and did not have contact with staff or students while contagious, according to Hoppes.
“This individual has experienced symptoms and continues to be in overall good health,” Hoppes wrote.
“The district has implemented strict health and safety guidelines for our employees to assure the safety of staff and students, and to limit possible exposure,” he added. “The district will continue to monitor the health of our staff, and will continue to pay close attention to our health and safety guidelines for staff and students going forward.”
How people go about their lives in the winter months will be critical, though, he added, saying “it will take the vigilance and responsibility of our entire community to slow the spread of this virus in our county.”
Hoppes encouraged families to pay attention to any possible symptoms of the virus and follow public health guidelines, such as wearing masks, frequent hand-washing and maintaining social distance.
On Friday, in response to spiking levels of cases across Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown ordered a two-week freeze that will temporarily limit social gatherings and impose restrictions on businesses through the Thanksgiving holiday. Though the measures do not apply to schools and colleges, some Clatsop County schools are making changes anyway.
Astoria began the school year cautiously, deciding well in advance of the first day to begin with online instruction only.
While staff and a very limited number of students have returned to buildings, district administrators decided that with the governor’s new round of restrictions those students will once again be learning from home. Any staff who are able to will also work from home, according to Hoppes.
Meal deliveries to students will continue. Technology hubs set up at certain schools for students who have no internet access will also still be available.
The school district had begun to offer engagement activities to provide students with in-person, out-of-school interaction out of doors. These will continue as normal.
“I want to recognize and commend how far we have come together throughout this unprecedented time,” Hoppes wrote to parents. “It has required that we work together in new and unique ways in support of our students and each other, and I know it has not been easy. I am truly humbled by the efforts of our parents and staff.”
Some students will continue to meet in-person at the Knappa School District, but the district will require employees who are able to work from home to do so, according to Superintendent William Fritz.
Students in kindergarten-through-third grade will attend classes in-person, grades four-through-eight will attend classes virtually and grades nine-through-12 will operate under a hybrid model.
In addition, he is asking employees and students to remain in Oregon, Fritz told The Astorian, “due to the need to quarantine upon return, which could impact student learning and district operations.”
The Warrenton-Hammond School District is not making any operational changes in response to Brown’s measures.
The school district had hoped to reopen for in-person classes across grade levels, but the county’s load of positive coronavirus cases means only kindergarten-through-third grade students are in class. While there is some limited in-person instruction for a few other students, grades four-through-12 are once again online.
“We will monitor the metrics over the Thanksgiving break to determine what, if any, impact changes in those metrics will have on our programming for the rest of the year,” Superintendent Tom Rogozinski said.
At Clatsop Community College, only students enrolled in physical education classes will be able to access Patriot Hall for the next two weeks, and then only for activities tied directly to instruction. The gym and track facilities will be closed to everyone else.
Previously, anyone enrolled in a credit-bearing class, as well as college employees, could exercise in the building.
The college will continue with limited in-person instruction, but most of the classes available are online only.