▶️ COVID cases emerging – but not spreading – in Central Oregon schools

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COVID cases are starting to emerge in Central Oregon schools, but it appears the cases aren’t spreading among the students and staff as many feared.

“I knew it would start and be kind of fast and furious at first, but we’re hoping to see a dropping off of the numbers soon,” said School Nurse Kim Kirk of the Redmond School District.

Kirk says COVID cases are nowhere near where they were last spring.

Right now, 126 students are quarantining in the Redmond School District; 42 students have tested positive, she said.

I’m not at all surprised by the numbers because I’ve been watching them in the county and I knew we were really coming into the start of school to kind of a perfect storm of the start of school and a peak of delta variant cases,” Kirk said.

According to Bend-La Pine Schools’ COVID dashboard, 64 COVID cases have been connected to a student or staff member over the last 28 days.

Julianne Repman, the district’s Communication Director, said officials were in contact with families who should be quarantined.

But Repman also told Central Oregon Daily News they were not keeping a running tally of the number of students out of the classroom due to quarantine.

In Crook County, 13 students have tested positive and 21 are quarantining.

“Crook County School District was the first school district in the region to serve students in-person last year, so our nurses, teachers, and staff are confident in their ability to effectively manage COVID-19. None of our positive cases have originated in our schools, but we expect positive cases and quarantines due to the rate of infection occurring in the community,” said district Communications Director Jason Carr. “Our number one goal for the new school year is to keep schools open and minimize outbreaks, so we’ll continue to follow the guidance of healthcare professionals. Vaccinations of staff and students have already prevented numerous quarantines, and we know that masks work to minimize spread of the virus.”

Jefferson County and Sisters school district officials did not return messages asking for data.

State health officials say Oregon schools and communities are taking precautions that are helping.

“With COVID-19 cases high in our communities, we’re seeing more students and staff needing to stay home while they recover or after an exposure so the spread in schools can be minimized,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the state’s epidemiologist. “With these measures in place, what we are not seeing is much spread of COVID-19 in schools.”

Kirk said she expects to see a decline in COVID cases locally in the next four to six weeks.

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