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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Just three days after the start of hybrid learning, Markham Elementary School in Southwest Portland reported a COVID-19 case on its campus.
Staff and families of students at the elementary school were notified Sunday, April 4, that someone at the school site tested positive, but the notice didn’t specify whether the infection was reported in a student or staff member.
“We understand this may bring up feelings of fear, concern or stress for members of our school community,” the letter to Markham families stated. “We are working closely with the Multnomah County Health Department and the Multnomah Education Service District to respond to this notification. As part of a general response to keep everyone in the cohort safe and to protect the health of our community, we are temporarily transitioning any impacted cohorts to Distance Learning.”
The notice said those who were not separately notified didn’t need to quarantine their child. Unless specifically notified, children who weren’t part of the affected cohort could safely return to in-person learning.
Portland Public Schools kicked off its hybrid learning program Thursday, April 1, to kindergarten and first-graders. This week, beginning April 5, grades 2-5 were allowed to return.
Hybrid learning sees elementary students in school four days a week for two hours and 15 minutes, in either a morning or afternoon slot.
All students and staff are required to wear masks and students must maintain six feet of space between one another.
Before reopening its campuses, the school district said it would have rapid COVID-19 testing available for all staff and students, as well as HEPA air purifiers in each classroom. The district also released its protocols for responding to a positive case.
Markham Elementary Principal Lydia Poole Smith and Isaac Cardona, PPS Area Senior Director, said everyone who may have been impacted by the infection was notified and asked to quarantine for 10 to 14 days, but names of students and staff reporting a COVID-19 illness will remain confidential.
“Please respect the privacy of those in our school community who are impacted by COVID-19 at this time, and please keep in mind that a positive COVID test does not necessarily mean an individual contracted the virus while at school,” Smith and Cardona stated in the letter to families.