A recent spike in COVID cases means the Crook County School District will officially begin the year online.
Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said the numbers were heading in the right direction for the district to be able to bring back kids in grades K-3, but a jump of at least 23 cases over the last three weeks pushed the district over the threshold.
“We’ve been working around the clock to keep K-3 open, but we’re just not meeting the health metrics set by the state,” Johnson said. “This isn’t a call the district wanted to make, but we’re working on plans to potentially bring K-3 students back by September 28th.”
For K-3 students to attend in-person, Crook County must have less than 30 cases per 100,000, a test positivity rate below 5%, and no active community spread or outbreaks for three weeks.
While the County meets the per 100,000 metrics with 21 cases, the case positivity rate currently sits at 5.6% – too high for K-3 students to be in the buildings.
The eight cases reported so far this week will keep the county above the requirements to reopen.
Johnson says the new target of September 28th allows families to plan ahead and provides the school district enough time to prepare for reopening.
“We want to avoid the yo-yo effect of opening and closing schools,” Johnson said. “That puts too much strain on our staff, students, and parents, so the end of September is a reasonable target.”
The school district will review the data on September 14th, and begin the process of transitioning back to the classroom if the metrics improve by then.
For all students to return, the case rate needs to be less than 10 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity below 5% for three weeks.
Timeline for returning students to the classroom:
- September 8th: Comprehensive Distance Learning begins
- September 14th: School district reviews health metrics for possible September 28th return
- September 28th: K-3 returns to classrooms if health metrics meet the exceptions
- CCSD will provide families with an update every two weeks
The other exception announced this week by the Oregon Department of Education allows schools with fewer than 250 students to fully open.
Paulina, Brothers, and Pioneer Alternative High School all qualify and will allow students in the classrooms on September 8th. The current enrollment for all three schools is 17 at Paulina, 11 at Brothers, and 39 at Pioneer.
The school district will use this chart, prepared by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Joel Hoff, to track the county health metrics and provide a visual representation for families and the community.
Once the metrics remain green for at least three straight weeks, then the school district can plan to transition students back into the classrooms.
K-3 students will be prioritized first.