It’s official: Crook County students in grades K-3 will start the school year in the classroom after another week of favorable COVID cases.
In fact, the county didn’t record a single COVID case between August 23-29. Overall, the county has recorded only 12 cases this month.
“We are excited to finally open up our classrooms,” said Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson. “Our staff and students are the lifeblood of our buildings and we’ve missed that energy. This is an exciting day that gives us hope for the upcoming school year.”
For K-3 students to attend in-person, Crook County – and counties statewide – needed to have fewer than 30 COVID cases per 100,000, a test positivity rate below 5%, and no active community spread or outbreaks for three consecutive weeks.
With Crook County’s numbers so low and the state’s numbers trending down, Johnson is now eyeing bringing back all students.
The state’s test positivity rate dropped to 4.4% last week, which is below the target of 5% for all students to return to the classrooms, the district said in a release.
It also corrected the metrics downward from the week of August 16th to 5%.
“We’re basically one week away from meeting the local and state metrics for all of our students to return,” she said. “K-3 is happening for sure, so we’ll be watching the data closely. If we meet the metrics next week, we’ll communicate with our families and set a target day for the rest of our students to return.”
The school district is coordinating closely with the health department to ensure students can return on September 8th and stay in classrooms. It will take a community effort.
“It’s extremely important that people continue with safety precautions in the community,” said Katie Plumb, Deputy Director of the Crook County Health Department. “Wearing face coverings, maintaining distance, and washing hands are things we can all do to keep our kids in school.”
The latest data from the Oregon Health Authority shows Deschutes County also meets the metrics to reopen, but Bend-La Pine and Redmond school district officials have said they are committing to starting the school year online.
Bend-La Pine has said it will reevaluate after six weeks of distance learning. Redmond has said it will reevaluate the numbers and situation after three weeks.