Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, joined by representatives from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education, announced protocols and guidelines for reopening select Oregon schools in a press conference Friday morning.
The protocols and guidelines entitled “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” provide general metrics that will determine which schools can reopen, and what they need to do to stay that way.
Under “Ready Schools, Safe Learners,” counties with 30,000 people or more will need to have 50 or less cases per 100,000 people to open all grade levels. Currently, approximately 130,000 Oregon students will be able to return to in-person learning under these guidelines.
Brown said doctors have advised her “zero risk is not the way forward — minimized risk is.” She also acknowledged the record high 600 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.
ODE representative Colt Gill stressed the consequences of students partaking in distance learning, including students who rely on the free and reduced lunch meal plans missing meals without access to that program from home. ODE also worries the lack of mandatory reporting that schools provide will result in an increase of unnoticed child abuse.
Gill said the Oregon government is “asking every Oregonian to prioritize our kids right now, and reflect on their own behaviors around COVID-19.”
Not only do students miss out on meals and the safety teachers provide as mandatory reporters, Gill said, but parents are finding it increasingly difficult to balance teaching and working. That’s why Oregon wants students back in school, he said.
Brown and the representatives said schools will not be super spreader sites for COVID-19, as long as they follow the safety protocols. Parents can file a complaint with Oregon Safety and Health Administration if they feel that schools are not following procedures to keep their students safe.