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LOSD takes action to prevent and prepare for coronavirus, mostly proceeds as normal

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - The district said its attendance figures were right around where they usually are this week, despite the coronavirus scare at Forest Hills Elementary.

After Lake Oswego School District officials were notified last Friday evening that a Forest Hills Elementary School employee had tested a presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the district took extensive measures to ensure the safety of students and staff by cleaning all schools and buses, and by closing Forest Hills through March 4.

Forest Hills Principal Patrick Shuckerow said his team's been working hard since they got the news that the virus had reached Lake Oswego.

"It was definitely a moment. It was, 'OK, let's get ready and get to work' kind of moment," he said.

Shuckerow said he was impressed by the level of care from the community.

"A lot of our community is expressing a lot of concern and care for the impacted staff member," he said. "They've been really respectful … They understand the privacy considerations."

"We're working lockstep with public health officials," LOSD Director of Communications Mary Kay Larson said of the closure at Forest Hills. At a press conference last Saturday, Superintendent Lora de la Cruz noted that the decision to close Forest Hills was made "out of an abundance of caution" after the Oregon Health Authority informed officials it was not a necessity.

While the building was closed, SERVPRO, an industrial cleaning company, was brought in to deep clean the premises. PBS Environmental, the district's industrial hygienist, provided third party oversight to make sure protocols were followed.

SERVPRO disinfected all hard surfaces such as doors, bathrooms, desks, chairs and countertops, using a registered hospital grade disinfectant called Benefect Decon 30. In addition to the manual wiping and disinfecting, electrostatic sprayers — which create a bond between the surface and the spray and don't have to be wiped — were used.

SERVPRO started their assessment Saturday morning and finished cleaning Monday afternoon.

SERVPRO used these same methods to clean all other LOSD facilities.

COURTESY PHOTO: LAKE OSWEGO SCHOOL DISTRICT - The industrial cleaning company SERVPRO was onsite at Forest Hills from Saturday through Monday afternoon to deep clean the school.

All other schools reopened Monday, and though grocery stores have seen empty cleaning supply shelves, schools have not seen empty desks.

"It doesn't look like attendance — when you do a year-over-year comparison — has seen much of a difference," Larson said.

She said the attendance rate for the district at this exact time last year was 89.5% and this year, accounting for the Forest Hills closure, was 89.1%.

Likewise, the district said kids haven't been sent home without good reason.

"No one is being sent home with just a cough," District Nurse Ann Nelson said.

She said they are following guidelines by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority when deciding to send a child home from school.

"The same things we were doing last week or the week before, we're doing this week," Nelson said.

Warning against discrimination

On Tuesday, in an effort to get ahead of any racial discrimination toward Asian populations at LOSD, all LOSD principals gave an intercom announcement to students disuading any notion that Asian populations at LOSD are connected to the novel coronavirus.

Principals then followed up with parents about the announcement via email. The message below was given to middle and high school students. Elementary aged students received a similar age-appropriate message.

"We are aware of reports that some of our students have been targeted and discriminated against in connection to the coronavirus COVID-19.

This is unacceptable and contrary to our values of racial equity and social justice.

Our responsibility is to provide welcoming, safe, and inclusive schools, and we do not tolerate hate speech or acts of discrimination. This is especially important at a time when fears about the virus can too easily foster suspicion without regard for facts. Please keep close to our core values, continue to treat everyone in our community with respect and recognize the dignity and humanity of everyone."PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Dr. Lora de la Cruz thanks Hallinan Elementary School Building Engineer Dwayne Wederski for him and his team's work on keeping the school safe during the coronavirus scare.


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