Vale high School murals

The new murals on the north-facing wall at Vale High School, as seen in early March.

VALE

For the first time since March 11, the Vale School District Board of Directors sat in Vale Elementary School for a monthly meeting.

“It’s really great to see everybody,” McGourty said, with a laugh. The day after the March meeting in Vale, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that all schools were to be closed due to the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon. Since then, the Vale School Board has been meeting via Zoom every month.

The Vale meeting was held in the elementary school gymnasium with every board member and every school administrator getting their own table to sit at. Face masks were required for all in attendance and there was a sign in sheet to help with contact tracing.

Parent involvement

Before the return to distance learning started at the end of August, Vale School District held socially distant in-person parents meetings at their schools to get the parents and students up to speed on how distance learning would work this year.

The principals of all four Vale schools said they had a lot of parents coming to the meetings. Vale Superintendent Alisha McBride said there was a district-wide count of 98.8% of parents showing up to the parent meetings.

“We’ve never had parent involvement like that,” McBride said.

Back in class

Starting on Monday, students in Vale School District will be able to return to classrooms for limited in-person instruction. Limited in-person instruction was something allowed by the Oregon Department of Education during it’s last round of guidance updates.

Students in Vale are being broken up into groups, which will either attend school on Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday. The in-person instruction will be from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Students are required to wear face coverings when at school and will receive meals when at school.

Due to cohorting rules (students are only allowed to be in two cohorts of 10) the school district will not be offering transport for students.

Well almost complete

The new well at Willowcreek Elementary has been completed and the piping to the pump house has been installed. McBride said the school district has collected samples of the water in the new well, which is being tested by Oregon Health Authority.

The new well has a correction system, meaning the school can make the water safe for the school to use even if certain contaminants are present.

McBride added that the school will not have to abandon the old well, which would involve making it unusable. Instead, the school is able to cap the well and leave it in case they want to reseal it for future use. As it is, a well that is not properly sealed and officially recorded can be used for irrigation, but only for half an acre.

The E. coli present in the old well was found in mid-September of 2019. Students and staff members of Willowcreek had been using water dispensers in every room. McBride said the testing for E. coli was done as a routine test, and no one became sick from the water.

Kitchen finished

The kitchen at Vale High School is completed, McBride said, with the final cost of the project being just under $350,000. With the kitchen completed, McBride said the district has finished the three big projects that they had planned from the bond that was passed in November 2016.

The school district has about $150,000 remaining in bond money, McBride said, and they will be meeting next month to see what the last of the money should be used for.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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