End-of-the-session activities for a Canby School District summer school program were canceled this week after a staff member contracted Covid-19, the Canby Now Podcast has confirmed.
Other district employees were informed by email late Monday morning. A bilingual version of the message went out to community members and families that afternoon.
“As members of the school community, we understand that this raises concerns,” Superintendent Trip Goodall said in the message. “We are working closely with Clackamas County Public Health to respond to this news and protect the health of our community.”
Based on the initial investigation, health authorities “do not believe there is a high risk of exposure for staff or students,” Goodall added. The district said that county contact tracers will be in touch with anyone they believe may have been exposed to this confirmed case.
District spokeswoman Autumn Foster said summer school students are continuing to work remotely (as they have the entire session), though end-of-the-session activities have been nixed.
Citing privacy concerns, she directed further inquiries about the employee’s condition and the progress of the case’s contact tracing to Clackamas County Public Health.
“We will be in touch soon about how students can return their devices,” Goodall said in the email. “We will have one final meal delivery to homes this Thursday. While this is not the way we envisioned ending our summer school program, we believe the safety and care of our staff and students is the highest priority.”
Goodall said the district is taking “additional steps” to clean and disinfect school facilities as the summer school session comes to a close.
Kathleen Hagans Jeskey, a retired Canby school teacher and former vice president of the local teachers’ union, said she heard the news shortly after it went out to staff members. According to her, many instructors are apprehensive about returning to the classroom in the midst of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
“Every teacher I know is very worried about going back,” she said. “Many have opted to do online or home school with their own kids this year. And many are making out or updating wills.”
She has also heard from a number of parents who feel the same way, from both Anglo and Latino families, she added.
While children appear to be at much lower risk for experiencing serious complications from the virus, they — particularly those 10 and older — can contract and spread it as well as adults, Oregon public health officials have said.
Teachers, on the other hand, are more likely to experience worse outcomes, particularly the one-third or so who are over the age of 55, or who have other underlying medical conditions.
Jeskey said the teachers she knows much prefer interacting with students in person and, outside of Covid-19, would be eager to get back to normal.
“They probably want to return to in-person more than anyone,” she said. “But only when it’s safe.”
The Canby School District, like most others in the region, has been prepping for a hybridized reopening of classrooms this fall, one that would incorporate two days of in-person instruction with three days of learning from home each week.
However, staff is also developing a fully distance learning program for families who would prefer it, and in the event the county’s Covid-19 numbers do not meet the requirements to safely reopen schools.