Bend-La Pine Schools student group calls for ‘sick strike’ Monday

An organized group of Bend-La Pine students is calling for a mass sick-out on Monday saying the current COVID situation has created “a substantial health risk” within local schools. 

“We are not safe, as this (omicron) variant alone has resulted in the largest amount of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic,” the Bend-La Pine Student Union group wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. “We pledge to take direct action against the inhumane school conditions we continue to be subjected to, starting with a sick strike.”

The group has about 500 Instagram followers and only a handful of Facebook followers, so it’s unclear how or if the message is making its way to the district’s student population at large. 

We’ve reached out for comment, but have not yet heard back. (School was still in session when we called.)

In the Instagram post, the group said it will have a list of “common sense alterations the district can make to improve school safety” by Monday.

School district officials said they had not heard about the planned strike and hoped to get more information.

Local COVID cases in the last month have jumped by more than 1,100% as the omicron variant continues to surge.

In Deschutes County right now, more than 13,000 people (1 in 14 residents) have COVID-19.

According to the most recent numbers on the Bend-La Pine Schools COVID dashboard, 680 students on Thursday were out with COVID and another 242 were quarantined due to exposure. 

Thirty-eight staff members were out with COVID or quarantined due to exposure.

Bend-La Pine Schools has around 18,000 students and 2,000 staff members.

The district has told families it wants to do everything it can to keep kids in the classroom, despite the COVID surge.

Superintendent Steven Cook said individual classrooms or schools could return to remote learning if staffing issues arose, but so far that hasn’t been necessary. 

The district says it’s taking steps to reduce potential exposure by limiting spectators at sporting events, making testing available in all schools, providing medical-grade and KN95 masks to students and staff and urging parents to step up the masks game for kids. 

In the student group’s call to action, they say “our health is not a game; we are not disposable.”

This story will be updated.

 
 
 
 
 
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▶️ Far-right ‘Reawaken America Tour’ stop in Redmond moved to Salem

A gathering of national far-right A-listers scheduled this spring in Redmond has been moved to Salem, according to the organization’s website.

The “Reawaken America Tour” was on the books for April 1-2 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.

The event flyer now says Gen. Michael Flynn and the rest of “Team America” will appear at the River Church in Salem on those dates.

Run by conservative podcast host Clay Clark, the tour bills itself as a conference to talk about vaccine freedom and religious freedom along with “election fraud, medical fraud and mainstream media fraud,” among other topics.

It promises appearances by Flynn, Roger Stone, several pastors and doctors who have made a name for themselves online for promoting alternative methods of fighting COVID.

Since news broke of the tour stop in Redmond, there have been multiple reports about some back-and-forth between Deschutes County Commissioners and event organizers about whether state mask mandates would be enforced.

Publicly, commissioners have made assurances the event could only happen if the mask rules were followed.

“I am working right now to ensure that the County communicates to the event organizers that they are required to comply with all public health regulations in order to hold their event there,” Commissioner Phil Chang said earlier this month. “And when the event rolls around I will do everything in my power to ensure that compliance is monitored and enforced – including calling OSHA myself to report violations if necessary.”

Commission Chairman Tony DeBone said he did not talk to event organizers about their intent to move. 

He said he supported the gathering and they were asked to follow the rules of the event space. 

Clark told Central Oregon Daily News that he had not been in contact with county officials and wasn’t aware of any issues about masks.

“I’ve been trying to get every event at a church,” he said, adding that the Salem church was “aware of the urgency of what I’m doing.”

“I would classify these events as a revival,” he said.

Earlier this month we reported about 800 of the 3,500 tickets for the Redmond had been sold; general admission tickets went for $250 while VIP tickets for seats closer to the front cost $500. 

Those tickets will not be refunded; buyers can use them at the new event.

After hearing about the organizer’s change of heart, Chang said Tuesday he was “relieved” it’s put an end to a potentially contentious issue in April.

“The event organizers have said that (the mask issue) was not one of the reasons they decided to move, but I think it may have been a significant factor,” he said. “They expressed a specific desire to find a venue which would not require them to wear masks. That was one of the reasons stated by the event organizer that they wanted to use the fairgrounds.

“And so when that expectation was turned around and they realized that they would need to comply with state public health regulations, I think that made it a less attractive place to do their thing.” 

Chang said, “whether I agree with the people’s perspectives or not, everyone is allowed to book an event at the fairgrounds as long as they can comply with the law and pay their bill.”

He said the fairgrounds has since added language to the general events agreement that spells out they will be required to comply with public health regulations. 

If the regulations aren’t followed, Chang said the language would allow the county to shut it down even while the event is happening.

Clark has said the CDC created COVID-19 and Flynn has long been an opponent of the COVID restrictions in place across the country.

The tour, which has included Eric Trump and My Pillow Founder Mike Lindell as speakers, has made headlines several times since it started last fall. 

On Friday, police were called to the event in Phoenix after attendees taunted teachers about masks at a nearby school. 

At the tour’s stop in San Antonio in November, Flynn came under fire for suggesting America should have “one religion under God.”

At another stop in Texas in December, several members of the tour fell ill after the event and later claimed they were poisoned with anthrax. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Deschutes Co. Sheriff accepts invite to speak to controversial group

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson next week plans to speak to the Central Oregon chapter of The People’s Rights group. 

It’s just another calendar item for a busy sheriff elected to represent Deschutes County.

“Sheriff Nelson has agreed to speak to them about Operation Guardian Angel, Measure 110, and the upcoming community academy,” said Sgt. Jayson Janes on the sheriff’s behalf. “The Sheriff has done similar speaking engagements for many organizations and groups like  Leadership Bend, Leadership Redmond, Rotary, the Lions Club, and many more. Members of the Sheriff’s Office commonly are asked to speak to organizations and groups within Deschutes County about Sheriff’s Office business.”

But The People’s Rights Group is a little different than the Lions Club in that multiple extremist watchdog groups consider it “a racist and far-right organization” that promotes paramilitary activity and, in Oregon, backs plans to secede from the state. 

“This isn’t the Rotary,” said Chuck Tanner, the research director for the Seattle-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. “It’s a far-right group that has an insurrectionist vision.”

Tanner’s firm researches movements like The People’s Rights group and others that he said, “pose a threat to democracy.”

“Presenting to groups about these topics does not translate into our office holding or supporting various group/organizational beliefs or ideals.”
– Sgt. Jayson Janes, spokesman for Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson

People’s Rights is also on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a national social justice organization that tracks hate groups.

“The group’s message, which has been shared across social media platforms, is that the U.S. government poses a great threat to the freedom and liberties of ‘the people,’ who need to be armed and ready to fend off these supposed tyrannical forces,” according to the SPLC “Hatewatch” blog.

Ammon Bundy started the group two years ago in Idaho, in part, to oppose the state’s COVID restrictions.

It’s blossomed from there into a national movement of 30,000-strong – or, twice that if you’re to believe Bundy’s estimates

Over the last two years, the group has organized numerous public protests – with members armed – outside state Capitols, schools, and public health departments, according to published reports. 

Calling it a militarized social movement, Facebook has gone as far as removing the profiles of many People’s Rights members and chapters. 

The Central Oregon chapter’s website says its members have come together with “unity and security” as the focus – “Unite to Defend.” The page also has several blog posts opposing mask and vaccine mandates, blasting local school boards and local government.

“Freedom is secured by uniting together in Claiming, Using and Defending People’s Rights,” according to the site. 

Responding to this story, chapter member BJ Soper refuted all the claims of the watchdog groups and said it has little or no ties to the national organization. 

Your quote from the SPLC regarding ‘armed to fend off the tyrannical government,’ is completely misleading and horrendously slanted. You will not find a similar statement made anywhere from THIS group you are painting that narrative upon,” Soper said in an email. “I challenge you to find that ideology, show me where we have done anything of the sort, and then please explain how that would not be considered LIBEL in a court of law.”

“Every Peoples Rights group across this Country, and now in Canada, run at the local level,” he said. “There is no hierarchy, no national effort, no president, or a leadership structure of any kind. Each chapter is free to make their own path by simply using the communication tools created on the website. The website is merely a tool to bring likeminded people together.”

The local group Nelson is speaking to was also behind a Redmond Fourth of July Parade float on which a member waved a Confederate Flag.

▶️ Redmond councilor, People’s Rights member react to Confederate Flag flap

Given how the extremist watchdog groups classify People’s Rights, we asked the sheriff’s spokesman in a follow-up how he would respond to those concerns.

“To answer your question the Sheriff does not routinely meet with militia groups, and did decline a meeting with the Central Oregon Peacekeepers,” Janes said. (Nelson has since said he would meet with the Peacekeepers to discuss the same topics he’s discussing with People’s Rights.)

Janes added that the sheriff would not be discussing public health with the group. 

“Sheriff Nelson believes one of his obligations as Sheriff is to share information about the Sheriff’s Office, programs the office offers, and explain ballot measures and their effects to residents of Deschutes County,” he said. “Presenting to groups about these topics does not translate into our office holding or supporting various group/organizational beliefs or ideals.”

Soper said People’s Rights has every right to bring in an elected law enforcement officer to speak to them about issues of importance to the community.

“Lastly, I would ask you, are the People in our group not members of this community? Do we not pay taxes, have the right to vote, and have a voice in this community,” he wrote. “If we do not align with views held by the editor, journalist, and clearly biased sources, should the elected officials that represent us be banned from speaking to their constituents?”

Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang acknowledged the situation was “an important topic” but declined to comment for this story.

Commission Chairman Tony DeBone has not yet responded to a request for comment.

But Tanner told Central Oregon Daily News a county sheriff sitting down with People’s Rights “lends legitimacy to a group that should have none.”

He said groups like People’s Rights are known to bring in law enforcement for speaking engagements in an effort to recruit them into the movement and “intervene to enforce their distorted view of the Constitution.”

“I don’t think any respectable law enforcement should be anywhere near these groups,” he said.


You read BJ Soper and The People’s Rights group’s full email to Central Oregon Daily News below:
 
I would like to take the opportunity to refute and set the record straight on the erroneous points your journalist included in the article listed above.

Before I point out the errors I would like to ask, “What has happened to balanced journalism?” When did opposing views become the only view used to, for lack of a better term, destroy the reputation of people or groups?

I would simply ask, why was our group not contacted for a statement of any kind before publishing such a contentious, inflammatory, and one-sided article? This article crosses the line from opinionated to libelous when one party is left without the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. One does not have to look far when wondering why the public no longer trusts our media outlets.

Our People’s Rights group is about four thousand members strong in Central Oregon. We are people from all levels of society who live in our community. Our membership consists of multiple ethnicities and religions. We are made up of doctors and nurses, lawyers, truck drivers, farmers, ranchers, grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, realtors, investment strategists, fisherman, loggers, butchers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and much more.

The young and old come to be a part of our group because we are all part of a community, neighbors to one another, working to ensure that we are secure in many facets of our lives. We work to ensure that our member’s freezers and pantries are stocked, and those that need medicine can get their prescriptions. We help each other with projects and tasks, we support our member business owners to survive in our current economic climate. We educate each other on critical issues such as upcoming legislation at all levels of government as well as reading and learning our foundational documents like the Oregon and United States Constitution. We ask our members often, “If you do not know your rights, how do you know they still exist?”

These so called “watch dog groups” that your journalist quoted, I wonder if the editor finds them a balanced resource. Would you find groups like Antifa and BLM on their radar too? Much like your journalist, these groups also fail to reach out and engage with groups like Peoples Rights, to try to communicate and make an actual fact-based assessment of the people and ideologies. Instead, they simply stalk social media accounts in hopes of finding little tidbits of information that help to drive their ideological assessment of people that do not live the way they do.

Your quote from the SPLC regarding “armed to fend off the tyrannical government,” is completely misleading and horrendously slanted. You will not find a similar statement made anywhere from THIS group you are painting that narrative upon. I challenge you to find that ideology, show me where we have done anything of the sort, and then please explain how that would not be considered LIBEL in a court of law.

Every Peoples Rights group across this Country, and now in Canada, run at the local level. There is no hierarchy, no national effort, no president, or a leadership structure of any kind. Each chapter is free to make their own path by simply using the communication tools created on the website. The website is merely a tool to bring likeminded people together.

Ammon Bundy envisioned this idea and worked to develop the tool for people to use. The media loves to demonize Ammon and his family, but I would like to point out that Ammon and his family were all found NOT GUILTY by a jury of their peers in Oregon. The case in Nevada was thrown out by a federal judge when evidence presented proved the government itself maliciously and unlawfully withheld evidence that was beneficial to the defendant’s case. Do these lawful and just actions no longer matter? If not, then what does matter, the opinions of an editor and journalist? Are those the determining factors in the character judgement or in these cases, assassination of the people in discussion?

Can the same not be said for Kyle Rittenhouse? Mr. Rittenhouse has been exonerated by a jury of his peers, gone through the proper prescribed manners used by justice systems long established before this Country came to existence. We are talking about trials where both sides present their case, and the people decide the fate of their neighbor. I am curious why media outlets feel their opinion outweighs a prescribed process seven hundred plus years in the making, enumerated clearly in our founding documents as the pillar our Country was built upon? Two foundational principles that every American holds, whether they understand or not, are Liberty and the preservation of Justice through due process.

I digress back to the false and misleading statements in your article. “Promotes paramilitary activity and plans to secede from the state.” If in understanding that every human being on this planet has an inalienable right to life, knowing that to maintain this, we have an obligation to protect our life, reaffirmed in the second amendment of the United States Constitution and in Article 1, Section 27 of the Oregon Constitution. Yes, many members are lawful gun owners. With this power comes responsibility and we encourage and help our members find the best training available so that they are again prepared in the event someone, or something threatens their life or the life of another.

As far as plans for seceding, Article 1, Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution says, “We declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right: that all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness; and they have at all times a right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.“

Article 4, Section 3 of the US Constitution details the lawful process for a State to form within the boundaries of an existing State. With these two very clear principles, what exactly is so nefarious about having a discussion that is completely lawful and within the prescribed authorities enumerated in the Oregon Constitution to the People of Oregon, if and when they feel a change is needed to provide for their peace, safety, and happiness?

I ask again, where is the factual basis that your journalist used to back the claims provided by Mr. Tanner or the SPLC? Can you substantiate for yourselves the claim that we are somehow acting seditiously? We wonder if Central Oregon Daily News is willing to go through litigation in defense of that statement you freely chose to include in this article.

Lastly, I would ask you, are the People in our group not members of this community? Do we not pay taxes, have the right to vote, and have a voice in this community? If we do not align with views held by the editor, journalist, and clearly biased sources, should the elected officials that represent us be banned from speaking to their constituents?

One must wonder if this is not the intended inference of this article. Article 1, section 26 of the Oregon Constitution again states “No law shall be passed restraining any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner to consult for their common good, nor from instructing their representatives, nor from applying to the legislature for a redress of grievances.” We are lawful citizens of this State and County and have every right to have our elected officials speak on subjects important to our community.

In this Country, we still have every right to speak freely and to express ourselves in ways we see fit. We have a part of society that would like to nullify this inalienable right, demanding that voices be quelled simply because they are offended, or strongly disagree. Being offended is a choice, not a right from which to have protection.

That is the beauty of our Constitutional Republic, the voice and rights of the individual are protected from the will of the majority. Opinions are just opinions when coming from individuals, but when printed words are used to mislead the public at large through protected means, liability to the affected person, people or groups can be levied.

Libel is a significant issue for a media outlet, so we ask that Central Oregon Daily News takes the initiative to correct the narrative or provide a factual basis to their claims made about our local People’s Rights group.

Sincerely,
BJ Soper

People’s Rights Oregon 5


You can read Sgt. Jayson Janes’ follow-up response to Central Oregon Daily News below.

Sheriff Nelson was requested by the People’s Rights group to speak to them about the Guardian Angel program, Measure 110 and the effects of the decriminalization of drugs. The Sheriff and Sheriff’s Office members often give presentations to various groups, clubs, programs and organizations about the work/accomplishments of the Sheriff’s Office.  

Sheriff Nelson and members of the Sheriff’s Office are available to present to any group/organization about the Sheriff’s Office response to ballot measures and programs the Sheriff’s Office offers.

To answer your question the Sheriff does not routinely meet with militia groups, and did decline a meeting with the Central Oregon Peacekeepers. 

An example of when Sheriff Nelson meets with groups is when the Sheriff’s Office was seeking input on our body camera policy.

The Sheriff did have meetings with a number of organizations in Deschutes County. Some of the organizations he met with and sought input from were Saving Grace, Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly, Latino Community Association of Central, Oregon, Bend La Pine and Redmond School Districts, as well as others.    

The Sheriff is not discussing public health with this group. Sheriff Nelson believes one of his obligations as Sheriff is to share information about the Sheriff’s Office, programs the office offers, and explain ballot measures and their effects to residents of Deschutes County.

Presenting to groups about these topics does not translate into our office holding or supporting various group/organizational beliefs or ideals.   

Sheriff Nelson has also let the Central Oregon Peacekeepers know he is available to give them the same presentation. 
 

BLS asks parents to prepare for return to remote learning; limits spectators

Families should prepare contingency plans for a return to online learning and spectators will now be limited at sporting events and other extracurricular events, Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Steven Cook wrote in an email to parents Friday evening. 

Cook told parents they need to “begin thinking about what things would look like for your family if we need to move to remote learning – a last resort, but one we must begin to entertain, at a classroom and school level.”

COVID cases are at all-time highs in Deschutes County as the omicron variant spreads rapidly in the community.

The county reported 940 cases alone on Friday and currently, 1 in 28 residents has COVID.

The school district is bracing for more teachers and students forced to quarantine due to COVID transmission as cases continue to rise.

As of Friday, the district’s COVID dashboard showed 17 staff members and 353 students in quarantine due to COVID exposure.

The High Desert Education Services District, the agency that places substitute teachers within the district, said the district requested 141 substitutes on Friday and they were able to fill 122 of those positions. 

Bend-La Pine on Monday morning requested 120 substitutes and the ESD was able to fill 99 spots.

Cook said every effort will be made to keep kids in class, but “due to the increasing numbers of persons continuing to be isolated due to COVID-19, we may soon be in a position in which we are unable to have students learn safely at school due to staffing shortages.”

Any return to online learning would be on a class-by-class or school-by-school basis – not districtwide, Cook said. 

“If a classroom or school transitions to remote learning, we will make every attempt to provide appropriate notification prior to the transition,” he wrote. “The first day of the transition will be used by educators to prepare materials for students. Instruction will begin remotely on day two.”

He said students would use their school-issued iPad for remote instructions and the transition would be at least five days – but possibly 10 or more.

Cook said the district is in constant communication with county and state health leaders about the most current situation. 

Outside the classroom, Cook said spectator restrictions will begin on Monday for districtwide extracurricular events.

For sporting events between two schools, spectators will be limited to four people per participant.

Each athlete, cheerleader, coach or member of the dance team can invite four people. (More details below.)

Cook said the move is in response to the Oregon Department of Education’s request earlier this week to halt extracurricular events or make changes that allow for more strict adherence to safety protocols.

No spectators will be allowed at larger events such as tournaments that involve more than two schools. 

“These spectator modifications are intended to reduce contact exposures, encourage greater distancing, allow for 100% masking compliance, and further our efforts to protect our student-athletes, coaches, and community,” Cook said.


You can read Cook’s full letter below:

Bend-La Pine Schools Families,

In the week we have been open since coming back from winter break, it feels as if our conditions are changing on a daily, even hourly, basis.

We have heard from many families, reaching out and wondering about the impact surging cases could have on our schools and extracurricular activities. My goal today is to share what we know to date, so that you can be as prepared as possible.

Today’s update includes temporary changes to spectator rules and COVID-19 isolation and quarantine notification and an ask to begin thinking about what things would look like for your family if we need to move to remote learning – a last resort, but one we must begin to entertain, at a classroom or school level. 

We understand that school closures would impact our families significantly. 

To be clear, our goal is to keep our students learning in-person, every day, as we know that this is the best place for them academically, socially, mentally and emotionally. Additionally, we are committed to do our best to continue extracurricular activities, with additional mitigation measures that are shared below.

We believe we have proven that, with mitigation strategies in place like masking, and distancing, our schools are among the safest places for our students. However, we cannot continue to provide on-site instruction in a safe environment if we do not have sufficient staffing.

District leaders have been communicating with state health officials, meeting regularly with local health officials and our pediatric advisory team to monitor the COVID-19 situation in our community, and we’ve also been closely tracking data, nearly hourly, to determine COVID’s impact on our ability to continue to keep classrooms open.

This includes, but is not limited to, monitoring the number of staff and students isolated with COVID-19, the number of staff and students in quarantine, and the number of staffing vacancies not covered by substitutes.

We are backfilling staff vacancies at every opportunity with staff from all departments, including administrators.

Due to the increasing numbers of persons continuing to be isolated due to COVID-19, we may soon be in a position in which we are unable to have students learn safely at school due to staffing shortages.

Should this occur, we would move a classroom, or entire school, to remote learning.

Students would receive instruction remotely, with their teacher(s), via their school issued iPad. This transition would be at least five days in length and could be as many as ten or more, depending on the situation.

Because of this current situation, we urge you to have a contingency plan for your student(s) and family, should a change to remote learning need to occur.

If a classroom or school transitions to remote learning, we will make every attempt to provide appropriate notification prior to the transition. The first day of the transition will be used by educators to prepare materials for students. Instruction will begin remotely on day two.

COVID-19 ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE NOTIFICATION CHANGES

This weekend, Bend-La Pine Schools is making temporary changes to its COVID-19 notification system, due to an increased caseload for the district’s contact tracers and nursing team.

If a student is identified as needing to isolate or identified as a close contact to a positive COVID-19 case, families will receive a phone call from 541-355-1000 or 971-301-4672. Isolation and quarantine information will be sent to the family email as well. Families who see an incoming call from 541-355-1000 or 971-301-4672 should make sure to answer it, as it will likely include pertinent information.

Additionally, families are encouraged to verify contact information on ParentVUE or check with their school offices.

SPECTATOR CHANGES

Bend-La Pine Schools believe strongly in the value of co-curricular and extracurricular activities. We remain committed to continuing these critical offerings for our students.

To ensure delivery of these activities can continue as long as it is safe to do so, Bend-La Pine School is announcing changes to indoor spectator guidance for all athletic and activity events held at our schools, beginning Monday, January 10. 

These changes are being made to address rapidly escalating cases of COVID-19 in our community and in response to a memo from Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority from Jan. 3, ​​recommending “that schools bring extracurricular activities to a halt, or ensure they follow the same layered mitigation safety protocols practiced during the school day.”

Bend-La Pine Schools remains committed to delivering extra-curricular activities, believing them to be critical offerings for our students and, therefore, we are making changes to our current guidelines in order to protect our student participants and the greater school community.

These spectator modifications are intended to reduce contact exposures, encourage greater distancing, allow for 100% masking compliance, and further our efforts to protect our student athletes, coaches, and community.

Lowering capacity: We will begin by lowering capacities in our facilities and events through a student pass system.

  • Four seats per participant at most athletic contests: For athletic contests between two schools (not tournaments), spectators will be limited to four spots per participant. Each athlete, cheerleader, coach or member of the dance team participating at the event will be able to invite four spectators. Guest names will be added to a will call list (by noon on game day) and these guests will check-in upon entry to the facility. Please bring photo identification. No printed tickets will be issued and no walk-ins will be allowed.
    • Novice wrestling, middle school wrestling and swimming spectator restrictions. These student athletes will be issued one seat per event to provide seating for families transporting students.
  • Four seats per participant for Clubs/Activities: Performing arts and clubs/activities with events planned will follow similar guidelines. Each participant will be able to invite four individuals to be spectators at the event. Guest names will be added to a will call list and no walk-ins will be allowed.
  • No spectators at larger events. Spectators will not be permitted at tournaments, city meets or athletic events involving more than two teams, unless called out above.

Spectators agree to comply with guidelines. By accepting the pass and checking-in at the gate, spectators will agree to and be required to follow all COVID protocols, including wearing a mask at all times that covers the mouth and nose.

Non-compliance with protocols could lead to verbal and written warning ultimately denying permission to enter and being trespassed from school properties per KK-AR.

No outside food or drink.

Streaming events. Spectators will be able to watch many athletics and activities events via the NFHS streaming service from home, work or remote location at no charge for the rest of the school year. Go to https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/ and search for your individual school to subscribe and find broadcast schedules.

Our hope is that these temporary measures will be short lived. We love to support our teams, clubs and activities. Please help us keep them going by following this guidance.

Sincerely,

Superintendent Steven Cook

Michael Flynn, Roger Stone headline ‘Reawaken America Tour’ stop in Redmond

Gen. Michael Flynn and Roger Stone are among dozens of speakers expected to attend a stop of the “Reawaken America Tour” at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in April. 

The two-day event run by conservative podcast host Clay Clark bills itself as a conference to talk about vaccine freedom and religious freedom along with “election fraud, medical fraud and mainstream media fraud,” among other topics.

Organizers say the conference speakers run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days with no breaks or intermissions. 

About 2,700 of the 3,500 tickets remain available for the event on April 1-2; general admission tickets cost $250 while VIP tickets for seats closer to the front cost $500. 

But the group also will work with guests and have sold tickets for as little as $5.

“We pretty much have tickets available for anyone,” Jeanna Holcomb, one of the organizers told Central Oregon Daily News. “We don’t want price to be an issue. We want everyone to hear the truth.”

To get tickets, you have to submit an email address and someone with the event will call you back. 

Previous coverage of the events around the country has called them “Q-anon friendly” rallies perpetuating false claims about the election, COVID and vaccine efforts.

President Donald Trump pardoned Flynn, his former national security adviser in 2020 ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Department of Justice stepped in to dismiss his case.

The pardon came in the waning weeks of Trump’s only term and came just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.

Clark has said the CDC created COVID-19 and Flynn has long been an opponent of the COVID restrictions in place across the country. 

The Redmond tour stop also is expected to feature several doctors who made a name for themselves over the last year promoting alternative methods of fighting COVID. 

The tour has made headlines several times since it started last fall. 

At the tour’s stop in San Antonio in November, Flynn came under fire for suggesting America should have “one religion under God.”

At another stop in Texas in December, several members of the tour fell ill after the event and later claimed they were poisoned with anthrax. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

Cranston’s attorney files motion to release; says fatal shot was self-defense

The attorney for a Redmond man accused in a fatal shooting outside a Bend nightclub last summer is asking for him to be released on bail, saying video evidence from “multiple cameras” shows the single gunshot was fired in self-defense after his client was attacked. 

Ian Cranston, 27, is accused of shooting to death 22-year-old Barry Washington, Jr. on the sidewalk at NW Oregon Ave. and NW Wall St. after an argument early on Sept. 19th.

In court Thursday, Cranston’s attorney, Kevin Sali, filed a motion for his client to be released until trial because the state’s case “has not met the burden necessary to justify the denial of bail.”

The 11-page motion provides new details from the night of the shooting based on videos and firsthand accounts – details the defense said weren’t disputed by prosecutors.

“On behalf of Mr. Cranston, and particularly in light of the false and inflammatory public statements made previously by the District Attorney’s office, we are immensely grateful that the events of that evening were comprehensively and accurately captured on video by multiple cameras,” Sali said in a statement to Central Oregon Daily News. “For our part, we will continue to make our case in court, where it belongs, and based on the evidence, as it should be.”

Cranston has pleaded not guilty to all six charges he faces: second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

The shooting of an unarmed Black man on a downtown sidewalk angered many in the community who rallied for Washington, held vigils, and demanded justice. 

Cranston was initially arrested and charged with manslaughter and was released from jail after posting 10% of a $100,000 bond.

But a few days later, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel announced a grand jury bumped up the charges and Cranston has been held in the Deschutes County Jail without bail since then.

▶️ ‘Beautiful soul’: Family, friends remember Bend shooting victim

According to the court documents, Cranston went to the Capitol bar with his fiancee Allison Butler and their friend on the night of September 18th.

“In the time leading up to the incident with the Cranston group, he was behaving erratically and aggressively,” the document said, adding that Washington’s blood-alcohol level was later measured at 0.195%. 

Around 11:30 p.m., Washington approached three police officers and shouted profanities at them, and held up his middle finger to them, according to the motion. 

About a half-hour later when Cranston and Butler were separated, Washington approached her and “expressed an interest in her.”

“Butler, apparently flattered, smiled and told Washington she was engaged, showing him her ring,” Sali said in the motion. “Washington gave Butler a hug, which she returned, and then the two separated.”

A couple of minutes later, Washington left the bar and a couple of minutes after that, Cranston, Butler, and a friend left the building and went up the street and talked. 

Washington soon walked up to the group and again “verbally propositioned Butler, who five minutes previously had respectfully declined his initial overture and who was now standing with the fiance she had told him about,” the motion said. 

▶️ DA announces second-degree murder charges in shooting of Barry Washington, Jr.

Sali said Butler once again declined and the group asked Washington to leave them alone. 

“Washington refused this request and continued to press the issue with Butler,” Sali’s motion said. “There followed an extended period during which the group continued to ask Washington to leave them alone, and he continued to refuse.”

Then, just after midnight, “Washington suddenly and without any provocation attacked Cranston,” according to the documents.

“The 6’1”, 212-pound Washington struck the much smaller Cranston with two powerful, closed-fist blows to the head, with the second coming as Cranston was falling from the force of the first,” Sali wrote. “As a stunned Cranston managed to get back to his feet, Washington raised his arm and made a series of threatening gestures toward him.”

Sali said the blows would later be determined to have caused Cranston a head injury, facial contusion, multiple lacerations in the area of his eye, blurred vision, and bleeding within the ear.

Cranston was now holding his handgun – which the motion said he was legally allowed to carry. 

“Cranston displayed the weapon to Washington, in what the video evidence clearly indicates was an attempt to deter Washington from continuing the assault,” Sali’s motion said.

Washington continued to threaten Cranston, despite seeing the gun. 

Sali said about this time Butler pulled out her cell phone and started recording in an effort to deter Washington. 

“The video shows him grabbing and shoving Butler, with the result that the footage is briefly shaken,” Sali wrote.

At this point, a friend of Cranston stepped in and tried to push Washington away from Butler.

“Washington, still undeterred by anything the group had been doing, turned and squared toward Smith and Cranston,” the motion said. “He lunged towards Smith and punched him in the face. Then, Washington turned at and squared toward Cranston, who was standing only a few feet away with his handgun still drawn and visible. It was at this point that Cranston finally fired a single shot at Washington. The round struck Washington in his midsection, stopping the assault.”

Sali’s motion then said Cranston immediately tried to help Washington and called for help.

Police arrived a few minutes later while Cranston was trying to help Washington. 

Sali said Cranston promptly told police that he was the person who fired the gun and cooperated with authorities at the scene. 

Washington later died at the hospital.

The motion said that the evidence shows Cranston fired his gun in self-defense. 

“As set forth above, Washington committed a violent, wholly unprovoked assault against Cranston. Washington had absolutely no right or justification to do that,” Sali wrote. “And Cranston had no legal obligation to allow a large, powerful man to continue viciously striking him in the head.”

The motion said Cranston had “a clear legal right to draw his firearm in an attempt to deter his attacker. As the indisputable video evidence shows, the single shot was fired only after Washington—having clearly seen that Cranston was armed—disregarded that fact and, completely undeterred, continued his assaultive conduct.”

Cranston is scheduled to go on trial in November 2022. 

A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday on another matter, and the motion to release could also be discussed at that time.

On Monday, Hummel issued a response.

“We’ve been anticipating Mr. Cranston to file a motion requesting the court to set bail in the case,” he said. “We oppose Mr. Cranston’s release, and in court will vigorously argue that he remain in custody until his trial.”

▶️ ‘We are failing’: local Black leader, City Council speak on Bend shooting

▶️ Arctic air mass takes hold across Central Oregon; single digits expected

Frigid temperatures are expected across Central Oregon Wednesday as an Arctic air mass takes hold across the region, according to the National Weather Service office in Pendleton.

Daytime highs Wednesday will struggle to get into the 20s and 30s – and those highs likely have already happened as temperatures continue to fall throughout the day.

Lows in the single digits and teens will move in early this evening. 

The mountains might even see below zero temperatures overnight into Thursday morning.

At Mt. Bachelor Thursday morning, wind chills could reach -13, according to the NWS. 

“These extremely cold temperatures can lead to rapid onset of frostbite and hypothermia for those without adequate clothing and protection from the cold,” according to the NWS special weather statement. “If outdoors, remember to dress in layers and cover exposed skin.

The agency warns that prolonged subfreezing temperatures will make uncovered pipes more susceptible to freezing and bursting.

Be sure to take steps to ensure they are protected and outdoor faucets are covered. 

Not much additional snowfall is expected at lower elevations over the next few days.

The frigid temperatures aren’t expected to last too long as the forecast calls for the mid- to upper 30s again by this weekend and into the low 40s by early next week.

For more information, visit our weather page at centraloregondaily.com

 

Health officials predict another COVID surge in Oregon

Following three confirmed cases of the highly-contagious omicron variant in Oregon, health officials warn the state’s peak number of hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic — about 1,200 —could more than double by the end of February.

“Today’s forecast is a warning we can’t ignore. Like a tsunami alert, the OHSU forecast is telling us that a big wave is coming,” said Patrick Allen, the director of the state health authority. “And it threatens to be bigger than any wave we’ve seen before.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and health officials on Friday urged people to get their COVID-19 booster shot.  

The health authority announced it is working to expand booster vaccination —  with a goal of administering booster shots to an additional million residents, doubling the current number people who have already received the booster.

Allen said early indications show the omicron variant is more resistant to vaccines, but people who are vaccinated are less likely to get seriously ill.

“Preliminary research tells us that a booster dose further builds antibodies,” he said. 

Dr. Peter Graven, director of the OHSU Office of Advanced Analytics, said the state has about two or three weeks before omicron becomes the dominant strain of the virus in Oregon. 

“We expect that cases will ramp up quickly,” he said earlier this week.

He said modeling predicts hospitalizations to peak around 3,000 from omicron compared to 1,200 for delta.

St. Charles officials say they are preparing for a surge.

“If the predictive models are right, we can expect to see yet another—and likely worse—surge of hospitalized patients by mid-January,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, St. Charles Health System’s chief physician executive. “While we got very encouraging news today that the state is going to extend its staffing contract with nurse travelers, we’re urgently imploring people to get vaccinated, and if they’re eligible, to get boosted. It is the single most important step we can take to mitigate the impact of the wave we know is coming.”

Following the news conference, the state’s hospitals association issued a statement calling the forecast “alarming” and a “stark reminder of the need to protect ourselves and our communities.”

“Hospital staffing and capacity are overwhelmed from the delta surge, seasonal influenza, and patients needing urgent, delayed care,” said Becky Hultberg, President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health System. “Now, more than ever, is the time to do all we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors from COVID. The single best thing you can do is to get vaccinated and receive your booster shot if you haven’t already.

“Please continue to wear a mask, physically distance, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands regularly. It is not too late to protect yourself. The time to act is now. Our hospitals, our workforce, and our communities need your help so we can care for those who need us the most.”

The Oregon Nurses Association echoed those sentiments and called on Oregonians to do their part.

“For nurses, and for all health care workers in Oregon, this is a particularly crucial time: the state continues to face unprecedented staffing challenges in hospitals and clinical settings in every community,” according to a statement from the union, “The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is calling upon Oregonians to take all possible steps to protect their health in the face of this threat. By doing so, we can help mitigate the devastating impacts on our health care systems, and our dedicated nurses, from an Omicron surge.”

Although officials warn of a fifth wave, Brown did not announce any added statewide coronavirus-related restrictions.

As for if any restrictions will return officials say “nothing is off the table.”

“We’re still really early on in what we know about omicron and I think three weeks from now, we may have a completely different picture — maybe worse, but it also could be better,” Allen said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

2 Caldera High School students face charges after online shooting threat

Two Caldera High School students face disorderly conduct charges after posting a school shooting threat to social media Friday, but Bend Police said no weapons were found.

Lt. Juli McConkey said around 12:22 p.m. police were contacted by someone saying there was a video circulating on a social media platform regarding a shooting at the new high school.

McConkey said the threat was specific to Caldera and was intended to target lunchtime. 

“Once the post went live, numerous students reported the incident to Caldera High School staff and law enforcement,” McConkey said.

The investigation revealed the creators of the video were two Caldera students, both juveniles, and they posted it live while on campus.

School administrators and police were able to identify and find the students quickly, but a search revealed they had no weapons – and they had no access to any weapons, McConkey said.

She said there was no threat to the Caldera community and there’s no one else to interview about the incident. 

This case has been referred to the Deschutes County Juvenile Department for charges of first-degree disorderly conduct.

Schools were already on alert Friday after a national TikTok challenge that warned of school shootings and bomb threats. 

Local school districts alerted parents of the situation Thursday night but said they did not believe any of the threats were local or credible. 

In Redmond, district officials said police presence likely would increase at schools. 

On Friday district officials said it was business as usual at schools and parents, for the most part, sent their kids to class like normal. 

In a letter to parents Friday, Principal Chris Boyd lauded the students who came forward after seeing the video.

“I am thankful to our upstanding students who wasted no time alerting us to the post,” he said. “We should all be proud of them for knowing what to do and taking action immediately to report this social media post.”

He called the incident a “disappointing and upsetting event,” but he hoped it would create a teachable moment for parents. 

“Parents, please share with your students that hoax threats are not a joke, and they can have devastating consequences — both for the public and for those who post them,” he wrote. “Hoax threats can result in both arrest by law enforcement and/or suspension or expulsion by the school district.”

McConkey said the threat was not related to the TikTok challenge but was said to have been a copycat inspired by the attention of the national challenge.

“School threats, such as this, will not be tolerated,” McConkey said. “Bend Police will continue to investigate these threats and hold the people responsible for the disruption.”

 

Bend Police officer pleads not guilty to assault, harassment

A Bend Police officer accused of assaulting a drunk man during an arrest in June pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, according to court records.

Officer Kevin Uballez was charged with fourth-degree assault and harassment in October.

The charges stem from an incident on June 6th when Uballez responded around 1 a.m. to a call of a possibly drunk pedestrian running in the middle of NW Skyliners Road near NW Lemhi Pass Drive in Bend’s Northwest Crossing neighborhood.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said the pedestrian, 42-year-old Caleb Hamlin of Colville, Wash., was drunk at the time and in Bend working on a construction remodel project at a house in the area.

He had been beaten up by three Summit High School students in the area just prior to his run-in with the police, according to Hummel.

Uballez is accused of forcefully pushing Hamlin into the street, damaging his face.

There’s no bodycam footage of the incident because, at the time, all Bend Police officers were not yet outfitted with them.

Video was released from the body-worn camera of an officer that arrived after the incident, which showed the police trying to talk to Hamlin.

The judge scheduled a four-day, six-member jury trial for September 2022.

Bend Police officer charged with assault after incident during June arrest