PAYETTE — As a result of a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 cases on campus, the Payette School District will close the Payette High School campus to all students from Sept 7-9, with students’ classes and coursework to be completed online during the closure. This was announced in a letter to parents and staff members by Principal Jacob Williams and Superintendent Robin Gilbert, as obtained by the newspaper Thursday.
The letter reads, in part, “We are working with health officials and families to identify positive cases as well as direct contacts for students and staff. A cluster of COVID-19 illnesses is evident and we are moving to a short-term dismissal of students for online learning.”
In an email to the newspaper Thursday afternoon, Gilbert said that the ongoing pandemic has impacted all Payette campuses, but Payette High more so than any other.
“We have an excessive amount of absences at the high school, not all of which are positive COVID-19 cases,” wrote Gilbert. “While all schools are experiencing high absentee rates, 28% of those absent at the high school are COVID related compared to only 2-5% of total absences at our other schools.”
Gilbert said the school’s athletic department is still evaluating how this latest outbreak will affect sports contests.
“Sports teams have been monitoring for symptoms and restricting play. Currently most of our teams do not have active reported cases of COVID-19. Our biggest concern is the audience attendance and community risk which is associated with all community events at this time.”
The letter encourages families to quarantine students to mitigate further spread, or at least wear masks while indoors and in close contact with others. It urges families to isolate sympotomatic students from practicing on athletic teams, as those practices are being permitted to continue at this time.
“While the school is closed it will undergo a deep cleaning and disinfecting according to [Centers for Disease Control] recommendations,” the letter continues. “Schools can re-open safely after short-term closure. We will continue monitoring any developments and plan accordingly in partnership with the Southwest District Health Department.”
The campus is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 13, subject to change. No other schools in the district are presently affected by closures as of press time, according to the district’s website.