Gov: State, County Covid-19 Metrics Will Decide School Reopenings

Governor Kate Brown has announced she will hold a press availability Tuesday afternoon to discuss the new Covid-19 health and safety metrics that will dictate which Oregon school districts may safely reopen in the fall — and when.

School districts are currently developing individualized plans for the 2020-21 school year using the Oregon Department of Education’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance and a new set of Covid-19 metrics developed by the Oregon Health Authority, working with the ODE and its Early Learning Division.

The metrics are based on the number of cases and the Covid-19 positivity rate per capita — both on a county and statewide level — setting requirements for when it is safe for in-person instruction to resume, and when the level of Covid-19 spread in a community would warrant a transition to comprehensive distance learning.

With the increasing spread of Covid-19 in both rural and urban Oregon this summer, many, if not most, Oregon school districts are already planning to begin school in the fall by focusing on online distance learning or will have a hybrid model that combines remote online education and in-person classroom time.

The Canby School District is among those that have been prepping for a hybridized reopening of classrooms this fall, one that would incorporate two days of in-person instruction with three days of learning from home each week.

However, staff is also developing a fully distance learning program for families who would prefer it, and in the event the county’s Covid-19 numbers do not meet the requirements to safely reopen schools.

End-of-the-session activities for a Canby School District summer school program were canceled this week after a staff member contracted Covid-19. Health authorities told school officials they do not believe there is a high likelihood that other staff or students were exposed.

The governor has put the emphasis on districts to ensure they can provide high-quality education to all students, including students of color, low-income students, students experiencing disabilities, and rural students — all of whom were disproportionately impacted by the rapid implementation of comprehensive distance education last spring.

With more time for school districts to develop a planned response to Covid-19 for the coming school year, she says she expects Oregon schools to address the diverse needs of students and their families and provide the best possible education for every Oregon student.

Governor Brown will be joined at the press conference by Director Colt Gill of the Oregon Department of Education, Director Miriam Calderon of the Oregon Early Learning Division, and Dr. Dean Sidelinger from the Oregon Health Authority. The press availability will begin at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A live stream will be available to the public here.

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