By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Rising COVID case counts in Crook County are forcing schools there to shift to comprehensive distance learning effective next week.
All Crook County K-12 classes are shifting to distancing learning effective Dec. 14th.
That’s due to the number of teachers who are either confirmed with COVID cases or have been exposed and must quarantine.
There aren’t enough substitute teachers available to continue managing the classrooms.
“Our teachers are getting sick. Our teachers are coming down with COVID,” said Dr. Sarah Johnson, Crook County Schools superintendent. “Some people don’t get a big impact from it, but some people are getting very sick from it.
Crook County has experienced a surge of 98 new COVID cases in the past two weeks.
The number needs to be below 45 on a bi-weekly basis to allow students to return to a blend of in-person and online instruction.
Redmond has also suspended its limited in-person instruction due to rising cases in Deschutes County.
In Crook County, the district’s Facebook page exploded with questions and comments about the decision to switch to online learning for all grades.
One parent I spoke with, who has two children in the school system, says she understands and appreciates the difficult situation and decisions district officials are making.
“We are so lucky to have this district fight to stay in school but their transparency with parents and kids…there are no words for the lengths that they go to keep us informed,” said Renee Tooley of Prineville.
“I don’t think all hope is gone,” Superintendent Johnson said. “I think if people are really diligent, we could fall from the 98 we had this last two weeks. We could cut that down to 45 I believe and maintain that for a couple of weeks but it’s going to take some real commitment by people in the district.”
School district officials say they hope case rates come down during the Christmas break and that they are able to reopen to in-person learning on January 4 if the metrics allow.
Johnson said the district will host an online fireside chat on December 29th to update parents and students about the plan of action for when classes resume in January.