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Hillsboro confirms first student case of COVID-19

A student at South Meadows Middle School has contracted COVID-19.

HILLSBORO, Ore. — South Meadows Middle School is open for classes Monday, after a student at the school was confirmed to have a case of COVID-19.

According to the Hillsboro School District, the student did attend school for one day last week with mild symptoms. As an extra precaution, South Meadows Middle School deep cleaned Sunday night ahead of school on Monday.

Superintendent Mike Scott said that there have been heightened cleaning precautions at the school for a week which includes the cleaning of high-touch surfaces and buses.

Both Scott and Dr. Christina Baumann with the Washington County Health Office said Sunday that they encourage students to come to school. Children are not a high-risk population for COVID-19 and ensure that regular cleaning and disinfecting will take place.

District Spokeswoman Beth Graser said Monday morning that new guidance from county and state health experts steered the decision to hold classes.

"They came out with the guidance on Saturday and that’s the guidance that we’re following today," Graser said. "They feel that the closing of a school should be seen almost as a last resort, because they’re just not seeing that as a really effective method of stopping new illnesses or the spread of the virus," said Graser.

"I believe it will be clean and if someone gets it again then I’d be worried but I’m not worried right now," said middle school student Carson Skrnich, on his way to school Monday.

Dr. Baumann said the public was being notified of this case so they could self-monitor and make sure they quarantine if they are sick, can wash their hands more often, avoid touching their face and avoid contact with people who seem ill.

When the student is no long exhibiting symptoms they will return to school

OHA recommends that all people in Oregon take everyday precautions to prevent the spread of many respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza:

  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Never visit a hospital or long-term care facility if you have a fever or cough illness
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are often touched
  • Take care of your health overall. Staying current on your vaccinations, including flu vaccine, eating well and exercising all help your body stay resilient.
  • Consult CDC’s travel website for any travel advisories and steps to protect yourself if you plan to travel outside of the US

In a release to students, family and staff, Superintendent Mike Scott said:

I am writing to you today to let you know that a student at South Meadows Middle School has tested positive for COVID-19. The student was present at school one day last week, with mild symptoms before self-isolating at home.

We have been consulting with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), and the Washington County Health Department (WCHD) to determine a response. Based on their current guidance, we will not be closing the school; rather, the ill individual will continue their isolation until they are well. Any individual(s) determined to be at enhanced risk of exposure will be contacted and asked to self-isolate by WCHD as well. South Meadows will receive an enhanced cleaning this evening.

FACTS NOT FEAR: Get the latest updates on the coronavirus

The unfortunate reality is that COVID-19 is in our community. Updated guidance from OHA and WCHD is that closing schools may not be an effective method for stopping the spread of the virus. This is the same stance currently being taken by school districts in other major metropolitan areas and communities around the country and around the world.

INTERACTIVE MAP OF LATEST CORONAVIRUS CASES

The best prevention is still practicing good health hygiene habits - washing your hands frequently, covering your cough or sneeze, getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet - and avoiding contact with people who are symptomatic. The best way to limit spread is staying home when ill.

I know you likely have many questions and we will attempt to answer some of them below. Visit our website at www.hsd.k12.or.us/coronavirus for additional information.

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Please know that we are doing everything we can to keep our students and staff healthy and safe. Thank you for your partnership in that effort.