An outbreak of COVID-19 traced to Summit High School students who attended a party a week ago had infected 24 students as of Saturday, and extended the closure of in-person classes at the Bend school through Friday.
According to an email from principal Michael McDonald sent to Summit High School families on Saturday, Deschutes County had confirmed 24 cases of COVID-19 among youth who attend Summit High and were primary or secondary exposures from the party. McDonald said that while Summit had in-person classes Feb. 8 and 9, there was no confirmed spread of the virus at school.
However, to prevent the potential spread of the virus, the school will return to distance learning through Friday, with an expected return to in-person classes and activities Feb. 22. That will allow the equivalent of a 10-day quarantine from the last time students were in the school building with academics or activities, McDonald said.
Students who did not attend the party or have contact with those who did, and who have no symptoms, are considered low risk for COVID-19 exposure, McDonald said. But county health officials encouraged anyone who may have been in contact with others who were exposed or who live with elderly or medically fragile family members to consider isolating from those family members and assume the youth or adult may be contagious.
In preparation for the eventual return of in-person classes, school district staff has completed a deep cleaning of classrooms and common areas in the school and left air scrubbers on overnight.
McDonald said he has heard expressions of frustration, anger and sadness from students, staff and families in regards to the outbreak.
“These are all reasonable responses,” he said in the email. “We are here to connect with students who need support during this time. Please reach out to our counseling, nursing and administrative staff, visit our Student Mental Health webpage or review our list of resources for mental health during COVID-19.”
McDonald called the situation “a learning opportunity.”
“We are all ready for the pandemic to be over and to ‘go back to normal,’” he wrote. “But we are not there yet. 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.”