Virus hits three Nyssa schools, state reports

NYSSA – The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday disclosed that three Nyssa schools have reported Covid infections, including two students.

The agency said Nyssa High School had five staff or volunteers and one student infected, that Nyssa Middle School had four staff or volunteers infected, and Nyssa Elementary School had one student and one staff or volunteer infected.

The onset occurred on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

In Ontario, Four Rivers Community School was listed as having four staff or volunteers infected with the most recent onset on Sept. 20.

Luke Cleaver, principal of the middle school, and Matt Murray, principal of the elementary school, said Thursday morning that they couldn’t comment and referred questions to district officials.

“We are working to understand the numbers, so I am not ready to comment at this time,” said Darren Johnson, Nyssa School District superintendent, in an email Thursday morning to the Enterprise. He didn’t otherwise respond to email or telephone messages. 

The report from the state provides no details about the infected individuals, including their current health status.

Malheur County has the highest infection rate in Oregon as the respiratory disease continues to spread in the county.

Operating under state restrictions, most schools in Malheur County are conducting most classes online. They are allowed to hold limited in-person classes, but the Oregon Department of Education released data showing that few Nyssa students are doing so.

At the elementary school, nine students are attending limited in-person classes. Thirteen students are attending such classes at the middle school and another 30 at the high school.

Johnson and school principals said in an Aug. 3 letter to parents that the district would decide by Oct. 16 whether to return students to classes. That would happen in the second semester, starting in January, the letter said.

“We will continually re-evaluate metrics and will communicate our status for reopening every six weeks,” the letter said. “We are prioritizing the return for our K-3 students as soon as metrics allow to ensure that our youngest learners receive face-to-face instruction.”

At Four Rivers, 36 students are listed as attending the limited in-person classes.

Across Malheur County, schools reported a total of 1,010 students were in a school building at some point last week. Most – 897 – were attending the limited in-person classes.

Under state guidelines, schools are required to have a process in place for “communicating immediately” with school staff, families and the community when the virus is diagnosed in an employee or student.

Malheur County data on Covid as of Oct. 7. (Enterprise graphic)

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-235-1003.

YOU CAN HELP KEEP LOCAL NEWS FLOWING: Reader support allows the Enterprise to provide in-depth, accurate reporting that otherwise would not get done. Keeping the community well informed is essential. SUBSCRIBE – $5 a month, automatically. DONATE – to provide additional support.