Student mentor Yilda Yamilex Molina-Cruz, right, gives instructions to Atziry Velazquez on the first day of school at North Salem High School, Wednesday, September 8, 2021 (Amanda Loman / Salem Reporter)
The Salem-Keizer school district temporarily moved a kindergarten class to online education after one student tested positive for Covid, but has so far avoided major Covid outbreaks or two mass quarantines weeks after the start of the school year.
As of September 16, the district had recorded a total of 48 cases where a student with Covid was inside a school building, district spokesman Aaron Harada said. Another 99 students were sent home to quarantine because they had been in close contact with another person who had Covid at school.
That’s out of 38,825 students in the district from kindergarten to high school who are enrolled in face-to-face classes.
Harada said a kindergarten class at Chapman Hills Elementary will be moved online for a week from Monday after a student arrives at school with Covid. This is because the district health authority, which is investigating cases of Covid, determined that the student was in close contact with enough classmates to make it both safer and more convenient to move the courses online. Kindergarten classes began Wednesday in most district schools.
The class represents 20 of the 43 elementary students the district has asked to quarantine.
Harada said cases of Covid reported in schools have generally been isolated, and the Chapman Hills class so far is the only instance where an entire class has been asked to self-quarantine. District nurses are investigating two high school cases they believe could be linked to a sporting event, he said, but have otherwise found no evidence that Covid has spread to classrooms or during school events.
The school district follows state and federal quarantine guidelines, which say people fully vaccinated against Covid do not need to quarantine themselves even if they are exposed to a sick person unless they do not show symptoms of illness. Unvaccinated students also do not need to be quarantined if they were constantly at least three feet from a sick classmate and both wore masks at all times, as directed by the state.
Across the district, 28 employees who work in schools have tested positive for Covid since school began, and another 17 have been sent home to quarantine, Harada said.
District elementary schools have so far reported 17 cases of Covid among students. The colleges have six and the lycÃ©es 25.
The district is working to create a dashboard on its website to regularly post information on the number of Covid cases and quarantines in local schools, operations director Mike Wolfe said.