WALLOWA — Wallowa High School closed for two weeks, effective Thursday, April 29, after several COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the school, Superintendent Tammy Jones said in a post to the district’s Facebook page April 29.
According to the post, six individuals tested positive for COVID-19 — two April 28, and four other positive tests earlier in the week. In a post April 27 that first outlined the details of the outbreak, the district said that it did not plan to close. That plan changed April 28. Jones told the Chieftain that all six of the individuals noted in the post were students, and a seventh student tested positive over the weekend.
“We are working closely with our local and state health authority to respond to this news and protect the health of our community,” Jones wrote in the Thursday morning post. “We are rapidly putting the contact tracing logs together and providing them to local health officials for contact tracing. Given the timing and the numbers of contacts that local health officials will needing to contact, we are immediately closing our high school.”
Students in grades six through 12 were moved to distance learning April 28 and will remain there through May 11. A local health official will contact parents who have a student who is required to quarantine, Jones said in the post.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will remain on campus, Jones said.
The Facebook post April 27 linked the outbreak to a community prom, which the post said was not a school sponsored activity.
“Many Wallowa County students attended this event, along with community chaperones,” the post stated. “(April 27) we learned that a number of individuals attending the prom have tested positive for COVID-19.”
She added that any athletes will be able to compete during the move to distance learning as long as they are not in quarantine.
The school’s cases are part of 16 cases reported in the county in the last week. Oregon Health Authority reported two cases on April 27, three on April 28, April 29 and May 1, four on April 30 and one on May 3. The increase brings the county’s overall total of cases to 176.
According to state data, as of May 3, about 40% of the county’s population — 2,903 people — have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.