For Malheur County schools, contact tracing is a win – with a cost

Kristie "Rae" Cooper, lead investigator with the Malheur County Health Department, works at her desk one day last week in Ontario. (The Enterprise/Liliana Frankel)

ONTARIO – Since the school year began in August, rising Covid case counts have created a logistical puzzle for nurses and administrators using careful contact tracing to minimize the number of students who need to quarantine. 

Sarah Poe, Malheur County Health Department director, said that while many local public health authorities were reacting to cases in schools by quarantining whole classes or grade levels, the more labor-intensive, exact contact tracing being done in Malheur County schools is allowing for a smaller number of students to be excluded from in-person class.  

That victory, however, comes at a cost for administrators who now spend, in some cases, a . . .