CANYON CITY — Humbolt Elementary School and the Prairie City and Long Creek School Districts are all experiencing active COVID-19 outbreaks.
According to Grant County Health Department Clinic Manager Jessica Winegar, Grant Union High School is likely to join that list when the Oregon Health Authority’s weekly outbreak report comes out on Wednesday, Sept. 29.
State health officials define COVID-19 outbreaks at kindergarten through 12th-grade schools as instances where there are two or more coronavirus cases and evidence of transmission at the school. Outbreaks are declared resolved when there have been no new cases for 28 days. The state reports the number of positive cases involving students, staff and volunteers at a school.
According to OHA’s Sept. 22 outbreak report, eight students at Humbolt and one staffer tested positive for the virus.
At this point, Winegar said, the case counts at Grant County schools are low, which shows that the schools’ mitigation efforts appear to be working.
Janine Attlesperger, Humbolt’s principal, told the Eagle that roughly 14 students were put on quarantine after being exposed to the virus at a soccer game or soccer party on Aug. 30. She said all students and staff were back from the outbreak as of Monday Sept. 27.
However, Attlesperger told the Eagle a staffer had been exposed to the virus by a student. In an unrelated event, she said another Humbolt student was exposed from a small outbreak at Grant Union High School.
As of Monday, Sept. 27, Attlesperger said there had been no evidence of any student-to-student exposure on Humbolt’s campus.
“We are just trying to be as cautious as we possibly can,” Attlesperger said. “If we feel there may be a close contact, there will be a quarantine for 10 to 14 days.”
Attlesperger said the information comes from the health department in a daily report.
“We just share the information (with the parents),” she said, “and they (the health department) determine the quarantine. I think we did a really good job to make sure that it didn’t spread within the school.”
Jennifer Garinger, office manager with Long Creek’s school district, told the Eagle that while their outbreak was resolved, an entire group of students on quarantine contracted the virus the weekend before returning to school. Those students, according to Garinger, were expected to return to in-person classes on Tuesday, Sept. 28.
She declined to give the number of students in the group or how many were previously placed into quarantine to protect their privacy due to the small population in Long Creek.
What happens when a student is quarantined?
Attlesperger told the Eagle that teachers offer their time virtually or over the phone to help students with their work when they are in quarantine. Attlesperger said educators learned that digital distance learning is not the best for kids. With that, she said that teachers are compiling the work that the students would do in class and are sending home textbooks and paper packets for students to complete at home.
Prairie City Superintendent Casey Hallgarth did not immediatly respond to the Eagle’s request for comment.