43 Summit HS students now confirmed positive for COVID after party

The COVID outbreak at Summit High School in Bend has reached at least 43 students, according to an email to families from the principal on Monday night.

“All appear to have a primary or secondary nexus to a weekend party in early February,” Principal Michael McDonald said. “Most students are showing varying degrees of illness, but other have identified as asymptomatic.”

McDonald said there were no reported COVID cases among staff and no signs it was spread at school.

In a letter to families over the weekend, McDonald called it a “teachable moment” for students, parents and the community.

“We are all ready for the pandemic to be over and to ‘go back to normal.’ But we are not there yet,” he said. “We need to redouble our efforts at masking, distancing and staying home when ill if we want to resume some ‘normal’ activities like in-person learning and athletics. We must all remember that our actions outside of school have a huge impact on what can happen inside our buildings.”

The school reported an initial outbreak last week had affected about a dozen kids and forced the school to cancel in-person classes at the end of the week.

Deschutes County Health, meanwhile, scrambled to set up a free COVID testing clinic for the community Friday at Pilot Butte Middle School.

Nearly 250 people showed up to get tested.

Summit now is undergoing a deep clean to prepare for students to return the week of February 22nd.

“It is my sincere wish that everyone who is ill is able to recover and that we were able to act fast enough to contain this outbreak,” McDonald said in his email to families over the weekend. “I have heard from many families, students, community members, and staff members during the past week who are experiencing feelings of frustration, anger, sadness and fear brought on by this outbreak. These are all reasonable responses. We are here to connect with students who need support during this time.”

You can read McDonald’s full message to families below:

February 15, 2021

Dear Summit Families:

In addition to the schedule shared in the recent email, I would like to update you on our current knowledge regarding the recent outbreak within our student community.

Since Wednesday, we have reports of 43 positive cases of COVID-19 among students. All appear to have a primary or secondary nexus to a weekend party in early February. Most students are showing varying degrees of illness, but others have identified as asymptomatic. We are very thankful to share at this time no reports of cases or illness among our staff and no signs the virus was spread at our school.

I appreciate the efforts of students and parents who sought COVID-19 testing and to those who will find themselves testing in the future. Testing and cooperating with contact tracing (from public health and our school nursing staff) play a major role in how well we control the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community.

We urge families to review and follow these health recommendations:

· For individuals who attended the social gathering on Saturday, February 6, you are strongly encouraged to quarantine for 14 days from February 6. Quarantine Information.

· For individuals that may have had close contact with someone who attended the social gathering, it is strongly recommended that you quarantine for 14 days from the date of your last exposure with that individual.

· If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and self-isolate for 10 days from symptom onset.

· If you tested positive for COVID-19 and do not have any symptoms, you should self-isolate for 10 days starting on the day you tested positive.

· Please report any positive test results or symptom information to Summit High School nurse Pam Orton at 541-355-4023.

I care deeply about all of our students and my concern about their physical and mental well-being has only amplified during the last few days.

This event has reminded us all that even with mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, young adults can easily spread the virus to their peers and the wider community, putting others at risk and disrupting a smooth transition back to school.

If we all participate equally in following the recommended guidelines, we all benefit from our partnership and teamwork. Summit staff will continue to work hard within the school and we need students and families to continue doing the same outside the building.

I am hopeful that our future communications will be filled with highlights from our classrooms and information about your students’ educations – and less about COVID-19. If you are interested in future updates on COVID-19 cases associated with schools that offer in-person instruction, including ours, I encourage you to bookmark this page.

The page is updated weekly, on Wednesdays, by the Oregon Health Authority and includes all Oregon schools that have one or more case of COVID-19 in students or staff/volunteers with onset within the last 28 days.

Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to seeing your students back in the building next week and celebrating our return.


Michael McDonald, principal

Summit High School

Schools to develop own blueprint for fall return; Helt calls ODE plan ‘unrealistic’


Staggered schedules, drastically modified classroom seating and screening kids at bus stops and before entering buildings are just some of the requirements laid out Wednesday by the Oregon Department of Education in order to safely return students to schools this fall.

Under the ODE’s “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidelines, every school in Central Oregon will have the flexibility to develop its own blueprint to meet the needs of their students.

“Our focus is on the safe reentry of staff and students to our schools,” said ODE Director Colt Gill in a joint announcement with Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen. “The 2020-21 school year requires a level of planning, iteration, communication, and collaboration like none that we’ve known or led during our years of service in Oregon.”

The 46-page document provides a checklist for schools, including guidelines on masks (not required for students), desks (minimum 6-feet apart) and lunches (likely served in classrooms.) It addresses guidelines for recess, bus rides (kids sitting 3-feet apart) and visitors (masks required.)

Schools must adhere to strict sanitizing regiments for not only students and staff, but also educational materials like books and pencils.

Also, it calls for schools to “cancel, modify, or postpone field trips, assemblies, athletic events, practices, special performances, school-wide parent meetings and other large gatherings to meet requirements for physical distancing.”

The future of fall sports remains unclear, though, as Gov. Kate Brown and the OHA work out guidelines specific to athletics.

“Schools do not have the physical space, monetary resources, or insurance coverage to bring back students in the fall under these guidelines.” – Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend)

“The fact is, physical distancing and hygiene are the best tools we have to prevent the spread and every prevention tool we remove increases the opportunity for transmission of the disease,” Gill and Allen said. “However, we have time to ready our schools to provide in-person instruction in ways that employ the prevention tools we know work. We can hold school in-person and protect our children, our staff, and the families they return home to each day.”

Every school’s blueprint could be different and it’s up to each one, at the direction of the district, to decide whether they’re going to teach all students on-site, teach all kids via distance learning, or provide a hybrid model utilizing both methods, according to the guidelines.

The rules will require schools to be thorough with their cleanliness, strict with their social distancing and nimble with just about every aspect of daily classroom life that could stretch from the gym to the library – using every square inch in between.

Blueprints must be presented to the school board for review by August 15th.

Bend Rep. Cheri Helt, a 10-year member of the Bend-La Pine school board, said the guidelines were too excessive.

“Schools do not have the physical space, monetary resources, or insurance coverage to bring back students in the fall under these guidelines,” she said. “Failure to open is unacceptable and unfair to all our kids and families. We cannot sacrifice two years of learning to fear and a lack of creativity.”

Gill agreed the recommendations would be difficult and “a real challenge for our school districts,” but said they weren’t out of line with what several other states are recommending and consistent with what the CDC has suggested.

“They’ll just be hard for our educators and families to get used to,” he said. “But at the same time, we’re bringing together for the first time a half million people…We think it’s the safest way.”

According to the ODE, each blueprint must address eight elements including Public Health Protocols, Equity, Instruction, and Family and Community Engagement.

Operational Blueprint

State leaders are providing the data-based requirements, but officials say the guidelines put the decision-making process into the hands of educators, school nurses, counselors, principals and others in tune with each school’s context.

“This collaboration ensures school doors are open and ready to welcome students in the fall,” Gill and Allen said. “The guidance describes what we know now, with an understanding that we will all need to navigate the state’s evolving efforts to mitigate COVID-19.”

Gov. Kate Brown initially closed Oregon schools for two weeks on March 12th, in the early stage of the outbreak’s reach into Oregon. But just five days later, she extended the closure to April 28th as President Trump laid out new social distancing guidelines for all Americans.

Brown then announced on May 8th that schools would remain closed through the academic year, putting the online learning component into overdrive while raising concerns about the possibility of returning in the fall.

Many counties across Oregon have been approved to enter Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, but health officials have said it will be some time before things truly return to normal.

Large gatherings likely won’t be approved for months and the social distancing restrictions still in place will require schools and districts to get creative in planning for next year.

Earlier this week, Crook County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson told board members she planned to open schools on time in September, but presented a number of contingency plans if things change.

“The old education model is changing and we need to proactively come up with different ways of serving families,” she said. “We’re developing a menu of options next year for students who may not thrive well in the traditional school setting.”

This is a developing story. We’re working to get reaction from local school leaders about the guidelines for our newscasts at 5, 6 and 7 p.m.

You can read the ODE guidelines below:

Ready Schools Safe Learners 2020-21 Guidance

Tumalo Community School Now Accepting Pre-K Applications

Tumalo Community School is now accepting applications for the school’s afternoon Pre-Kindergarten program this fall.

The afternoon Pre-K program operates from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Classes begin the week of September 9th and will run throughout the school year.

“Tumalo Community School is proud to continue our Pre-K program this year,” said Justin Nicklous, Tumalo Community School Principal. “Participation in Pre-K classes offer a wonderful start to a child’s education and introduces them to their school community in a positive way.”

Students must be four years old before September 1, 2019 in order to apply to the program. Tuition is $225 per student monthly.

Registration closes Friday, August 30th.

For questions or more information about Tumalo Community School’s Pre-K program, please contact the school directly at 541-382-2853.

Tumalo Community School is currently open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.


▶️ BLP Schools Finish Up Construction Projects Ahead of New Year

The start of the new school year is just a few weeks away now.

Several Bend-La Pine schools are gearing up for their students’ return by finishing up construction projects to enhance safety and create more innovative learning environments.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has the story.


North Star Elementary – Bend’s Newest – Opens Monday

Bend’s newest school, North Star Elementary, officially opens on Monday with teachers moving in to begin setting up classrooms and prepping for the new year.

“This new school is designed with the educational needs of students in mind and I’m excited for teachers to begin to settle into their new classrooms as we look forward to welcoming new students,” said North Star Principal Kevin Gehrig.

The two-story school is situated in north-central Bend off of O.B. Riley Road. It will relieve overcrowding at elementary schools in northwest and northeast Bend.

North Star includes 24 classrooms, a gym, commons area and media center, and is based on the designs for Silver Rail Elementary School.

Construction of North Star is one of more than 150 projects that are part of the $268 million construction bond passed by voters in 2017. Hundreds of people have been employed to make the completion of this new school a reality. Thanks to construction of new schools and classrooms, more than 400 additional jobs are sustained in Deschutes County each year, according to IMPLAN economic data.

Community members are encouraged to save the date to join in a celebratory ribbon cutting and barbecue at the new school Aug. 28, starting at 4:30 p.m.

Redmond Schools Open Online Registration


The Redmond School District has opened the 2019-20 online student registration and verification process for all students.

The ParentVue portal gives parents or guardians a secure way to register new students or verify current student information for all grade levels. The online method reduces traditional paper documentation that previously had to be completed in person and brought to the schools.

“The online registration process is fast and convenient for Redmond School District families,” said Superintendent Mike McIntosh. “It is designed to ensure accuracy of student information while offering a helpful tool to save time during the busy back-to-school season.”

To register new students or verify returning student information, parents can visit the district website at www.redmondschools.org and click the online registration link on the home page. 

Parents of new students will still be required to bring certain documents to their student’s school such as proof of birth, proof of immunization and proof of address. The online registration process will detail which documents are required for new student registration. 

Incoming in-town kindergarten students who have not yet registered may do so at the Redmond Early Learning Center Registration Event on Thursday, August 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Redmond Early Learning Center located at 2105 West Antler Avenue in Redmond, Ore. For questions about this event, parents can contact the Redmond Early Learning Center at 541-923-8900. Incoming kindergarten students attending Tumalo Community School and Terrebonne Community School may register by contacting each school respectively.

Parents can contact their student’s school or synergyhelp@hdesd.org for questions or more information about Redmond School District online registration.

Bend Families Scrambling to Find After-School Care

When Bend-La Pine students return to school in a few weeks, they’re not the only ones who will have to get used to a new schedule. A change in the start times for the district schools has forced some parents to scramble to find quality after-school childcare.

Central Oregon Daily’s Meghan Glova talked to some parents today hoping The Boys and Girls Club of Central Oregon is their answer.