By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The Oregon Department of Education on Wednesday is expected to release new guidance for schools as they prepare for a possible return to classrooms this fall.
ODE Spokesman Marc Siegel would not share any details other than to say the agency would release new guidance and Gov. Kate Brown would discuss the guidance during a press availability.
In June, the ODE released guidelines and a checklist for schools and districts to follow as they created their own blueprints for a return in the fall.
The guidelines covered everything from daily sanitization efforts to school bus seating to classroom desk configurations.
But a lot has changed since then as COVID cases continue to rise in Oregon and new mask mandates have been handed down.
At the time, State Rep. Cheri Helt (R-Bend) called the guidelines unrealistic and said schools didn’t have the space or money to make all the necessary changes to welcome students.
Since then, districts have been busy putting together their plans, which must be presented to the ODE by August 15th.
Bend-La Pine and Redmond schools have said they planned on having all K-5th graders back in class full time while the middle and high schoolers would see a mix of in-person and online learning.
Redmond Superintendent Charan Cline over the weekend released a video on Facebook showing some of the work happening in the classrooms to ensure the schools are meeting social distancing and sanitization requirements.
Crook County is still formulating its plan and Jefferson County has said it hopes to have all of its students back in person full time.
COVID cases in Oregon have now surpassed 15,000 and nearly 270 people have died.
Locally, Deschutes County currently has 134 active cases of the disease that’s sickened 378 people here.
President Trump and others, including the CDC, have called for a full return to classrooms across the country, but the issue has communities divided.
Many parents are demanding schools reopen so their kids can get back to a normal education while there’s loud opposition from teachers and others concerned about the potential increased exposure to the virus.