COVID-19: Oregon schools to stay closed until April 28th

Gov. Kate Brown late Tuesday announced an extension of her previous statewide school closure order to combat the spread of coronavirus, saying now schools will be shuttered until at least April 28.

Previously, Brown had told K-12 schools to close for two weeks.

Under Brown’s executive order:

  • Schools are to remain closed through Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
  • Districts are to provide learning supports and supplemental services to students and families during the closure period, including meals and child care. This includes the delivery of food assistance and offering child care for essential health care professionals and first responders.
  • School districts may call on public school educators and employees to deliver limited learning and support services.
  • Each district will pay all their regular employees during the closure.
  • The Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Health Authority, and Department of Human Services are directed to support public schools in the continuity of mental health services.

“I do not take the decision to extend school closures lightly,” said Governor Brown. “This will have real impacts on Oregon’s students, parents, and educators. But we must act now to flatten the curve and slow the rate of COVID-19 transmission in Oregon, otherwise, we face a higher strain on our medical system and greater loss of life to this disease.”

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Oregon rose by 19 cases to at least 66.

The Oregon Health Authority announced 18 new cases including seven in Washington county, five in Linn County, four in Clackamas County, and one each in Marion and Multnomah counties. Of the Linn County cases at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, four were previously reported Monday evening by Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Linn County also reported one case on Tuesday after the OHA had released its most recent figures.

Brown on Monday banned on-site consumption at bars and restaurants around the state for at least four weeks in a bid to slow the spread of the new coronavirus and said gatherings will be limited to 25 people or fewer.

Once that order was announced, school leaders knew the two-week closure likely would be extended.

Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Shay Mikalson sent a letter to families earlier in the day Tuesday, bracing them for the news.  He said if it were to happen, the district was ready to implement a Continuation of Learning plan that would include various strategies to allow students to connect with teachers and staff.

Additionally, the district announced it will extend the grab-and-go meal program currently offered at five schools by providing free meals to students over Spring Break next week at Bend High and La Pine High. The grab-and-go meal program will resume at all five school sties on March 30th.

Brown also said 150 of the state’s 197 school districts are providing students with free and reduced-price lunch despite school closures statewide. All the districts in Central Oregon are providing meals to students.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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