According to a newsletter on Friday from Vale School District Superintendent Alisha McBride, out of an abundance of caution, all in-person instruction and activities for Vale High School students will be paused from Feb. 1 through Feb. 11. All Vale High School students will transition to distance learning. This decision stems from the fact that eight individuals who have been in the Vale High School building have tested positive for COVID-19 this week.
In-person instruction at Vale Elementary School, Vale Middle School, and Willowcreek Elementary School will continue, and buses will operate as normal.
The school district has been working closely with the Malheur County Health Department to identify close contacts of the positive individuals. While it is concerning to have eight individuals test positive in the same week, to-date, there is no evidence of COVID-19 spread in the school. Instead, it appears that the positive individuals had contact outside of the school building.
During this pause, it is extremely important that high school students adhere to the following health and safety guidelines:
• Wear a face covering;
• Stay home when under quarantine;
• Stay home when ill; and
• Frequently wash or sanitize hands.
Early return option
The quarantine guidelines have recently been modified to allow for a shortened quarantine option. Any Vale High School student who receives a negative COVID-19 test after Feb. 3 will be provided with the opportunity to resume in-person instruction on Feb. 8. Written confirmation of a negative test will be required for a student to enter the building on February 8. Malheur County Health Department will be offering a drive-up testing opportunity at Vale High School on Friday, February 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. This testing event is free and open to all students, staff, and the community. Rapid tests will be used, and results will be provided on-site. If a student is 15 or older, a parent is not required to be present. This is a voluntary testing opportunity. Students are not required to test to return to school on Feb. 15.
Distance learning will be facilitated for all Vale High School students from Feb. 1 through Feb. 11. Mrs. Sharp will provide additional information regarding the distance learning schedule soon. Families may check out a Chromebook and/or hotspot by contacting the Vale High School Office at (541) 473-3181 on Monday. Grab-and-go meals will be available for students to pick up at Vale High School from 11:45 to 12:15 each school day.
Our top priority continues to be the safety of our staff and students. In addition, our goal is to provide access to in-person instruction and expand extracurricular opportunities such as clubs and athletics. In order to accomplish these goals, it is critical that students adhere to health and safety protocols both inside and outside of school. It is especially important that students limit their contacts outside of school and remain home if they are ill.