One employee and two substitute teachers at Brooklyn Primary School tested positive for COVID-19, and all three contracted the virus outside of school, the Baker School District announced on Friday, April 2.

Students in first, second and third grades attend Brooklyn. Brooklyn students have been attending in-person classes four days per week since Oct. 14, 2020.

The school district has notified parents of students in classes where one of the employees taught or worked, according to the press release.

Any students asked to quarantine, after a contact tracing interview by the Baker County Health Department, will attend classes online until they return to school.

Baker Schools Superintendent Mark Witty said Monday, April 5 that the district intends to have middle school and high school students return to a full in-person schedule on Monday, April 12.

“On Monday the plan is to go ahead and bring everybody back,” Witty said.

He said the tactics the district has followed since last fall will continue, including requiring students and staff to wear face masks, frequently wash their hands and undergo a health check each morning when they arrive.

“If you’re sick or have any symptoms or anything, then we would isolate and send you home,” Witty said.

He credits those protocols with the district’s relatively few COVID-19 cases, none of which has required any schools to close, even temporarily.

“Staff and students continue to follow all health protocols to keep our community safe and healthy,” Witty said.

Both district and Baker County Health Department officials have said that none of the students or staff who tested positive throughout the pandemic was infected while at school.

Nine Baker School District students have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year, including a Brooklyn third-grader in early November. The most recent student case, a middle school student, was reported Feb. 5, and there have been two student cases since Dec. 9.

Since July 2020, a total of 13 Baker School District employees, including three substitute teachers, have tested positive, Witty said.

He said he plans to meet with Health Department officials Wednesday, April 7 to discuss the plan to return middle school and high school students to full in-person learning, in light of the recent increase in case rates in the county.

During the Oregon Health Authority’s most recent two-week measuring period, which ended April 3, the county had 79 new cases, compared with 24 during the previous two-week period.

The most recent period included 13 new cases on Friday, April 2, the highest one-day total since 14 cases on Jan. 12.

The county reported one case on Saturday, April 3 and zero cases on Sunday.

“We’ve had a strong relationship between Baker School District and Baker County Health Department and we just want to make sure that they’re in agreement, that they think it’s still reasonable to move forward,” Witty said.

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