Tribal Government & News
Increase in COVID-19 cases shuts down Tribal government, Willamina schools
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
An increase in West Valley COVID-19 cases prompted the Grand Ronde Tribal government and Willamina School District to shut down on Friday, April 16.
Tribal General Manager David Fullerton sent an all-employee e-mail late Thursday, April 15, that stated the Tribal offices will be closed and Facilities staff will begin cleaning and disinfecting all buildings immediately.
He said that only essential staff should report to work and all other employees should work from home, if possible.
"In addition, I ask that those who have tested positive or are quarantined for potential exposure please take the guidelines for isolation seriously," Fullerton said. "All others please take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe. Wear masks, wash your hands and social distance."
The Tribal government's website, www.grandronde.org, is reporting 13 active and three news cases in the community as of Wednesday, April 21. So far, the Tribe has tested 2,022 people and registered 82 positives for a 4.1 percent positivity rate. In addition, the Tribe has delivered 16,596 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine with almost 8,600 of those doses going into the arms of Elders.
The Tribe returned to its second phase of re-opening and encouraged employees to work from home if possible through the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the Willamina School District also announced on late Thursday that school would not be held on Friday, April 16, because of active COVID-19 cases amongst its student population and that students will not return until at least Tuesday, April 27.
Superintendent Carrie Zimbrick said that four students have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and the entire baseball and football teams were exposed. She said that almost 100 middle and high school students have been advised to quarantine because of potential exposure. Most Grand Ronde Tribal students attend Willamina schools.
Willamina schools returned to remote virtual learning on Tuesday, April 20, through at least Tuesday, April 27.
The Tribe will host a a Facebook Live event at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 21, to update employees and the community about the latest developments surrounding COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases have been steadily increasing in Oregon over the last week, according to the Oregon Health Authority, with daily numbers approaching the wintertime highs of almost 1,000 per day. The April 15 count of new confirmed and presumptive cases totaled 733.