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Oregon grade school reopens after employee diagnosed with coronavirus

A staff member at Forest Hills grade school in Lake Oswego was diagnosed with the virus last week.

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — Forest Hills Elementary School reopened Thursday after being closed since last Friday when the district learned an employee there had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The school was closed over the weekend as industrial cleaning crews came in to deep clean the building.

Thursday marks two weeks since that staff member with coronavirus was last at the school and that would have been the last time students or staff were potentially exposed to the sick employee.

Lake Oswego Superintendent Lora de la Cruz addressed the media Thursday morning, a couple hours before kids returned to school.

She said they haven't seen any other cases of COVID-19 in the community. 

When he first heard the news about Forest Hills, parent Luca Gamberini was surprised.

"I was really shocked," he told KGW, "mostly because I’m originally Italian and relatives are there, where there is they are really in trouble. I never thought that could happen here,"

He felt fine about his daughter returning to classes, especially with reinforced lessons about washing her hands.

A parent Erica said "I think the school did a really good job the district did a really good job making sure they took the right precautions for everyone."  

Raymond HIll joked about taking the temperature of his kindergartner every five minutes.

"Maybe not every five minutes, but I took his temp quite often, but he’s got no signs so here we are."

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De la Cruz previously said she doesn't believe students could be infected because that individual typically doesn't have the kind of contact with students that would result in transmission of the virus. They closed the elementary school for a few days "out of an abundance of caution".

RELATED: Employee presumed to have coronavirus was last at Lake Oswego elementary school on Feb. 19

RELATED: Lake Oswego district monitoring absences after elementary school employee tests positive for coronavirus

However, a few staff members visited their sick co-worker in the hospital before knowing they had coronavirus. Those employees have been asked to remain at home for the time being.

She said this whole situation has made the community stronger and Thursday will be a day filled with compassion and care for one another. She said their hearts are with the staff member who is ill and they hope for a swift recovery. 

De la Cruz said since learning about the staff member's diagnosis, school and district leaders acted promptly. They reinforced and provided support for better hygiene and health and have been working very closely with and following the guidance of local public health authorities.

They have contingency plans in place if they need to go to online learning, but they hope that won't be the case, de la Cruz says.

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