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