Teen Party Spreads COVID & Implodes School Reopening Plans

This week, Greater Albany Public Schools faced a setback in their progress to holding in-person classes when at least 19 students attended a gathering without masks and furthered the spread of COVID.  

Melissa Goff, GAPS Superintendent, said in a statement that at least three positive cases had been traced to a gathering in a local home of about 19 students from West Albany High School, South Albany High School, and Lebanon High School. Goff also said because students had been together, six more students should be quarantining. 

Local health authorities have contacted the families, but Goff said they have struggled to get information from some of them, which is adding to the situation. 

Before the latest positive cases, GAPS was monitoring COVID cases around the county and holding limited in-person instruction in 14 district sites for 142 students who receive special services. 

Now, those services are paused, and the district has asked that teachers and staff who can work from home do so. 

On Monday, GAPS said that 13 of 21 sites had seen contacts or cases, and six sites have active cases or exposure concerns. It noted teacher and/or student cases discovered at Liberty, Meadow Ridge, Oak Grove, Periwinkle, Tangent, Waverly, Calapooia, Memorial, North Albany Middle School, South Albany High School, West Albany High School, and Albany Options School.

“Until we feel confident that we know of all positive cases and exposures, we will be keeping all campuses closed to limited in-person learning, athletics and activities,” Goff said

The state requires counties to have a positivity rate of five percent in the previous three weeks before K-12 students can return to classrooms. This means that of the people tested for COVID, positive tests need to happen at a rate of five percent or below. 

Counties with less than 30 new cases per 1,000 can apply for an exception for K-3 classes. 

Linn and Benton counties have not met these guidelines since they were put in place in the summer. 

Oregon as a whole reported a dip in weekly cases, with 2,327 new daily cases, a four percent decline from the previous week that had 2,418.  

By: Hannah Ramsey