During Tuesday nights Bend-La Pine School board meeting, awards were handed out, agenda items presented, but one thing was on everyone’s mind: COVID.
“We have over 500 cases currently with students and we have over 100 cases of actually positive cases with staff as well,” said Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook.
And it’s become a major strain on the school system, he said.
On average the district typically asks for around 60 subs a day.
Monday the district needed 152 and filled only 110 of those slots.
“So if anyone is listening and you want to sub, please for goodness sake let us know and we will find a way to get you into schools,” Cook said.
Schools are worried about students out of the classroom due to COVID, but with new quarantine guidance from the CDC and OHA, they are now worried about how to get those students back in the classroom safely.
“After day five, staff and students can return to school even if they are positive, even if they are positive with COVID,” he added.
They can return if symptoms are reduced.
Managing isolation safety protocols is up to each school district with advice from local health officials.
“Their feedback was that we do not fit the guidelines because we aren’t able to isolate them in the way and you are right, the guidance is a little wishy washy and it sounds like OHA is not providing the clearest guidance for us,” said board member Shimiko Montergomery.
One of the biggest challenges, lunch.
“As a parent, if I found out that my child was having lunch sitting next to a kid that was on day six and my kid brought COVID home, I would be very upset obviously,” said board member Amy Tatom.
“I know the public is very eager to get their children back in school and we are eager to get kids back in school, but if we do it too quickly with the proper safety protocols, we risk more children missing time from school because we didn’t do it right,” added Tatom.
The board says it will continue discussions on quarantine matters.
Another board meeting is scheduled for February 8th.