By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday she plans to reevaluate the COVID metrics to reopen schools, but the effort is too little, too late for some local parents who say their kids should have been in class since September.
“I’m frustrated,” said Jon Haffner, a single father of a sixth-grader. “We’re at the point where we’ve done enough of the precautions where I think kids need to be back in school.”
Under the current state COVID metrics, that return to school won’t happen for students in Deschutes County until at least November 2nd.
The county needs to have 30 or fewer COVID cases per 100,000 residents for three straight weeks.
Last week, for the second week in a row, COVID cases exceeded that threshold.
“I’m pretty upset about that because I feel like our metrics are the problem, that’s what needs to change,” said Judi Knapp, a Bend mother of three.
“I want to be clear, this additional testing, while critical to controlling COVID-19 does not replace our metrics for opening schools,” Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen said. “In order to open schools safely and sustainably, we must reduce the amount of COVID in our communities.”
In Deschutes County, health officials say the recent spikes in cases are partially linked to teens and young adults socializing in large groups.
The message: local residents need to start being even more cautious if they want kids back in the classroom.
“If you’re going to be socializing with people, you want to keep your social bubble small, wear a mask, you want to wear a mask, be outdoors if possible and maintain distance,” said Morgan Emerson, the Deschutes County Health preparedness coordinator. “And then frequently wash your hands, and of course, avoid being around anyone if you’re feeling sick.”
It’s unclear what changes are in store – if any – to the state’s metrics.
But Brown said she will work with state health officials and school leaders across Oregon to come up with a solution that works for everyone.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to continue our conversations with superintendents across the state, with teachers and parents as well,” Brown said. “Metro area Portland looks very different than, frankly, Bend, and that looks very different from Ontario.”