Nyssa School District

This photo shows the gym at Nyssa High School.

MALHEUR COUNTY

While most of Malheur County’s schools are still far away from allowing students to return to the classroom for full in-person instruction, there have already been some hiccups in the limited return to the classroom.

In its weekly report on state COVID-19 numbers, Oregon Health Authority has reported that there are multiple cases of the virus at both Nyssa School District and Four Rivers Community School.

The report breaks up the number of cases by school, listing Nyssa High School with five cases among staff or volunteers and one case among students (the numbers of teachers is the largest school outbreak in the state). In Nyssa Middle School, there have been four cases among staff or volunteers. In Nyssa Elementary School, there has been one case among staff or volunteers and one case among students.

At Four Rivers Community School, OHA reports that there have been four cases among staff or volunteers. According to Four Rivers Superintendent Chelle Robins, there are currently no active cases among staff or volunteers at the school.

While Nyssa and Four Rivers are unable to have large groups in the schools, they are able to offer limited in-person instruction to small groups of students. With the schools already offering the instruction, the positive results will not shut down the whole school, but will shut down those classes/activities that those students, teachers or volunteers were associated with.

As of Thursday, Malheur County remains far away from returning to full in-person instruction. For Malheur County, a rural county with a population of over 30,000 people and a population density of fewer than six people per square mile, the county needs to have fewer than 30 new cases of COVID-19 over a three week period (with fewer than half of those cases being in the last seven days) and a test positivity rate lower than 5%.

As of Sept. 27, Malheur County had 285 positive cases of COVID-19 in the past three weeks (reporting 63 cases in the last week, the lowest weekly case count since OHA started reporting the weekly data), with a positivity rate of 17%.

While most Malheur County schools are unable to open for full in-person instruction, Jordan Valley, Arock and Juntura schools are able to, since they are all rural school with fewer than 65 students in the whole district.

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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