Letter From Superintendent Laure Quaresma

Athena-Weston School District 29 RJ

375 South Fifth

Athena, OR  97813


March 3, 2020

Dear District Families,

We know this week has started out confusing with issues surrounding a presumptive case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Umatilla County. The health and wellbeing of our students, staff and community are paramount, and will continue to drive our decision making. The very best thing we can all do right now is remain calm and pay close attention to the advice and guidance of our public health officials. 

On Saturday, February 29th, there was a community youth basketball tournament and teams from surrounding towns were in the Weston Middle School Gym playing games. During one of the games, an audience member was transported by emergency personnel to Providence St. Mary’s Hospital in Walla Walla. This individual is not a school district employee. 

Because the Weston Middle School Gym is physically detached from the rest of the school, district administrators with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority decided to close only the gym and conduct school.  Health officials do not consider the school building to pose any risk of exposure. The gym is being professionally cleaned by a regional company and all of our schools are consistently cleaned with virus protection solutions.  These steps allow us to clean thoroughly and allow local, state and federal public health professionals to conduct their investigation. 

Under Federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, other spectators at the game who may have been in a closed environment with the individual are considered “low-risk” exposures. Coronavirus typically spreads through close, consistent contact. Close contact is considered to be any time two people are within 6 feet of each other for a prolonged period of time. 

All school closure decisions are made by the local public health authority and the local school district and in consultation with the Oregon Health Authority. Health authority officials review each case and follow CDC and state protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Public health officials have assured us there is no need to close schools in the district at this time. 

The Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority have developed a set of Frequently Asked Questions at this link: https://www.oregon.gov/ode/students-and-family/healthsafety/Documents/C… that can serve as a resources for families and schools. You can look here to find answers to questions such as:

  • Should my child stay home from school?
  • Should my child be tested?
  • Why aren’t schools closed? 

We understand your concerns and if you feel you need to keep your child home, we understand and will work with you on absences, but again, the risk of exposure has been determined as currently low.

Thank you.

Laure Quaresma, Superintendent

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