Vale High School will close down for two weeks in response to a Covid outbreak. (The Enterprise/Rachel Parsons)

 VALE – Vale High School will shut down classes beginning Monday in response to a growing Covid outbreak.

The high school will be shuttered until Feb. 11, according to a press release Friday from Vale School District Superintendent Alisha McBride.

McBride said eight “individuals who have been in the Vale High School building have tested positive for Covid-19 this week.”

"It is critical that students adhere to health and safety protocols both inside and outside of school. It is especially important that students limit their contact outside of school and remain home if they are ill," McBride wrote.

The school district returned to normal operations on Tuesday, Jan. 19, after using limited class time and virtual instruction. The closure of the high school means teachers and students will go back to distance learning.

In-person instruction will continue at Vale and Willowcreek Elementary Schools and Vale Middle School, according to the press release.

“We have been working closely with the Malheur County Health Department to identify close contacts of the positive individuals. While it is concerning to have eight individuals test positive in the same week, to date, there is no evidence of Covid-19 spread in the school. Instead it appears that the positive individual had contact outside of the school building,” McBride wrote.

There is an early-return option for any student who acquires a negative Covid test after Feb. 3. Those students can return to school Monday, Feb. 8.

Written confirmation of a negative test will be required for students who wish to return to school Feb. 8. Students are not required to get a Covid test to return to school Feb. 15.

The Malheur County Health Department will offer a drive-up testing event at Vale High School Feb. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The testing is free.

This story will be updated.

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