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Warm Springs tribal government, casino, K8 Academy close amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

(Update: Tribal govt., casino also closed this week)

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KTVZ) – Rising COVID-19 case counts in Warm Springs have prompted a number of actions to curb the spread, from a week-long closure of the tribal government offices and Warm Springs K8 Academy to closure of the Indian Head Casino.

The Warm Springs Tribal Council decided at a Friday emergency meeting with its COVID-19 Response Team to close the government offices from Jan. 10-17.

“The COVID-19 count has reached 145 positives and counting at the time of writing this memo and is a major concern, so there is a need to slow down our positive case numbers immediately,” Secretary-Treasurer/CEO Glendon Smith said in a memo.

All employees were placed on administrative leave, except for a list of “essential employees,” with a planned return on Jan. 17. Also, he wrote, “all public events will be discontinued until further notice.”

Those off work were urged to “exercise social distancing, wear a mask and sanitize, and refrain from traveling unless you must travel for needed supplies or for urgent emergency care.”

The casino, meanwhile, said on its website it’s temporarily closed “until further notice, due to staffing shortage.” A Facebook posting on Monday morning said they “look forward to our customers returning on Monday, January 17th at 9 a.m.”

Jefferson County schools Superintendent Jay Mathisen announced the decision Friday in a message to families and the community:

"Dear 509J Community,

In partnership with Warm Springs, 509J has deferred to Tribal Council and their COVID-19 taskforce for protocols to protect individuals against COVID-19 throughout the pandemic on tribal lands. In alliance with the Warm Springs COVID-19 Task Force’s recommendation, there will be no school for students attending the K-8 Academy next week starting on Monday, January 10 through Friday, January 14.

The decision to close the school down was not made lightly. Current numbers of COVID-related absences for students and staff are not driving this decision. We are making this decision to be good partners with the Tribes while they take precautionary measures to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant as case counts increase across the Warm Springs community.

We appreciate your patience as we navigate these difficult times in our community. We will be providing an update on Monday regarding the possibility of student services such as student work and meals.

509J Superintendent Jay Mathisen"

An update was posted to the school's Facebook page on Monday:

Free breakfast and lunch will be provided as a grab and go, or as a drive-through to any child 1-18 years. Child must be present to receive meals. If child is not present, an integrity letter will be provided to the adult picking up the meals to fill out. Meals will be served at the curb next to the bus drop-off area.

Here is the schedule for picking up meals this week, Monday: 9:00am-10:30am Tuesday-Friday: 9:00am-11:00am

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