Vale School District and Elementary School

The sign for Vale Elementary School, which also houses the School District Office. 

SALEM

A Malheur County school has returned to Oregon Health Authority’s list of schools with recent COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, OHA released its weekly report (which usually comes out on Wednesdays, but was delayed due to Veterans Day) with data up until Nov. 8, and Vale Elementary School was listed with two students and three staff/volunteers testing positive for COVID-19. The most recent onset date from Vale Elementary School is Oct. 31.

This comes shortly after four limited in-person classes at Vale Elementary were impacted by individuals who were in the building who tested positive for COVID-19. This news came out on Oct. 25. The individuals who tested positive were not identified and their position with the school was not released, but the results did affect four classes at the school.

No other Malheur County schools were added to the list this week. As of Sunday, when the data for the weekly report is compiled, there have been four cases among staff/volunteers at Four Rivers Community School; one case among students and four cases among staff/volunteers at Nyssa High School, four cases among staff/volunteers at Nyssa Middle School, and one case among students and three cases among staff/volunteers at Nyssa Elementary School.

Reopening metrics

For the second time in a row, Malheur County’s metrics have risen, as far as school reopening is concerned.

For the two-week period between Oct. 25 and Nov. 7, Malheur County had 518.2 cases of COVID-19 per every 100,000 population. This is well above the mark while the county needs to reach in order to reopen schools for full in-person instruction.

On Oct. 30, the Oregon Department of Education released new metrics for when schools can reopen statewide. Malheur County, a large county with a low population density, needs to have a case rate lower than 100 per 100,000 population. There must also be no community spread as determined by Malheur County Health Department.

The test positivity rate for the county, which does not factor into the reopening metrics, is up to 25%.

Of Malheur County’s all-time cases, 1,501 of them come from Ontario (zip code 97914), 356 of them from Nyssa (97913) and 177 of them from Vale (97918). There have been 51 cases coming from the other zip codes in Malheur County.

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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