Sams Valley Elementary closes after aide's death

Sams Valley Elementary School will remain closed for a second day for a precautionary cleaning after a teacher's aide contracted strep throat and died Tuesday, school and Jackson County health officials say.

The school, at 14235 Table Rock Road, is being sanitized with hospital-grade sanitizers by Servpro, a company hired by the Central Point School District.

A post at the school district's website said the closure and cleaning came after a consultation with Dr. Jim Shames of Jackson County Public Health.

"Dr. Shames emphasized that although public health is not at risk, cleaning the facility, as a precaution, is a prudent step to ensure the safety of our students and staff," the post said.

The district declined to release the aide's name, but described her as "beloved." Jackson County Public Health said she died Tuesday shortly after she contracted Group A strep bacteria, or strep throat.

"This case is an unusual complication that resulted from a common illness. The bacteria is very common," Public Health Division Manager Jackson Baures said in a news release.

An immediate family member of the woman was hospitalized but was released from Providence Medford Medical Center Wednesday, the district reported. Two elementary school staff members also came down ill, though Central Point School District officials emphasized there was no confirmed connection between those cases and the woman who died. There have been no reports of sick students.

Baures said Group A strep bacteria can live in a person's nose and throat. The illness is spread through contact with droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze, or by eating or drinking from the same dishware or utensils.

It's also possible to get strep throat from contact with sores from strep skin infections.

Symptoms can include a swift onset of sore throat, severe pain when swallowing, a fever of 101 degrees or higher, red and swollen tonsils, tiny red spots on the back of the roof of the mouth, headache, nausea, body aches, rash and swollen lymph nodes. County health officials say a throat swab test is needed to confirm the disease.

Doctors can prescribe antibiotics following a positive test, but health officials said people should not seek medical care for the infection unless they present symptoms.

Public health officials urged frequent hand washing and said people should avoid sharing eating utensils to prevent the infection's spread.

"Any protocols they recommend we'll certainly adhere to," said district Superintendent Samantha Steele.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or Follow him at

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