By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Oregon school districts in counties with declining COVID cases suffered a setback in getting all students back to the classroom as the state’s test positivity rate last week surpassed the 5% threshold.
Currently, students in grades K-3 are able to return to in-person instruction in counties that have fewer than 30 cases per 100,000 residents, a test positivity rate below 5%, and no active community spread or outbreaks for three weeks.
Locally, Crook County has met that metric and some students returned to the classroom last week.
Deschutes County has also met those metrics, but Redmond, Bend-La Pine, and Sisters school districts have committed to starting the school year online.
For students in grades 4-12 to be able to return to the classroom, a county must see 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 people and have a test positivity rate at or below 5%. The state must also have a test positivity rate at or below 5%.
For the past two weeks, Oregon’s test positivity rate was going well with 4.4% and 4.3%. But the rate last week jumped to 5.6%.
“It means we are not able to open because in order for us to open the state has to have less than or equal to five percent,” Crook County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said.
If the state’s positivity rate and the county’s positivity rate are under 5% for the next three weeks, they could reopen schools in Crook County to 4th through 12th graders by Oct. 12 at the earliest.
“When we can open, we will,” Dr. Johnson said. “That’s what our community wants to do.”