Draft of revised COVID metrics would allow Deschutes Co. schools to reopen K-5

By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

All of Deschutes County’s elementary school students could be allowed to return to the classroom under new state COVID metrics expected to be released in the coming days.

That was the message Tuesday night from Bend-La Pine Schools Interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist during a board workshop.

Nordquist said Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill revealed a draft of the new metrics during a call on Monday.

There are conflicting reports on when the announcement on the new metrics will be made, but it could come as early as Thursday.

And the draft could change.

But the new metrics Nordquist saw were “much less restrictive in terms of the number of case counts” and gave counties a range to consider instead of one number.

So instead of needing three straight weeks with 30 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents to reopen schools for grades K-3, the new metric would look at a range of the two-week average of cases per 100,000 residents.

“We haven’t abandoned the idea of getting our 4-5s in full time, but as long as those social distancing barriers exist that’s going be a challenge.”
– BLP Interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist

Deschutes County does not meet the current metric, meaning the earliest K-3 students can return to the classroom is Nov. 30th.

“We meet the new metrics under the new guidelines to go ahead and start,” Nordquist said, adding that the new guidelines also allow for the return of 4th and 5th graders. (And 6th graders where they attend alongside the younger grades.)

But still up in the air is whether the new metrics will be a requirement or a recommendation and whether the state will allow districts to restart right away or wait until a specific date.

“We are absolutely committed to getting our students back into school as soon as the metrics allow,” she said.

Nordquist said the district will still stagger the restart by first bringing back kids in grades K-3 in a hybrid/alternative days model for a week or two.

Those students would then return to full-time, in-person instruction while kids in grades 4-5 return on alternating days in a hybrid in-person/distance learning model.

She said there simply isn’t enough space or staffing in the schools to bring back all the students full time and still abide by social distancing rules.

“We haven’t abandoned the idea of getting our 4-5s in full time, but as long as those social distancing barriers exist that’s going be a challenge,” she said.

And the COVID cases remain too high still to think about returning middle and high schoolers.

Nordquist also said if community spread of COVID continued and it was enough to keep kids out of schools into the new year, Gov. Kate Brown would implement tighter restrictions on businesses and close down higher-risk activities.

Gill acknowledged the health risks in bringing students back but said there were some additional negative health and safety issues to consider.

He told the group there were 1,500 fewer child abuse cases reported across the state in September 2020 than in September last year.

Many child abuse case reports start in schools with teachers or other trusted adults noticing a child who may be in danger.

Additionally, Gill told educators that after looking at areas where schools reopened across the world and U.S., the data showed schools weren’t a significant contributor to the community spread of COVID.

 

Deputy Day Camp Brings Sheriff’s Office to Life for Kids

Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson says it’s never too early to start recruiting for new deputies.

That’s why the sheriff’s office held their second annual deputy day camp Tuesday.

And if the afternoon session iis anything to go by, the future of law enforcement is in “very” safe hands.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan tells us more.

Moving In: North Star Elementary Teachers Set Up New Digs

By Meghan Glova
Central Oregon Daily News

As students soak up the final weeks of summer vacation, teachers are ready for school to be in session.

On Monday morning, teachers began setting up their classrooms at Bend La-Pine School’s newest elementary school, North Star Elementary.

“It’s going to be an incredible campus for kids,” said Allison Harris a new teacher at North Star. “Bend-La Pine has put every detail into their brains and really made this a school where kids are going to grow and learn incredibly.”

The new two-story school can hold up to six hundred students, and features twenty four classrooms, a media center, and a large outdoor field with two playgrounds. Located in north-central Bend, North Star will help with overcrowding at elementary schools in the northwest and northeast parts of town.

“It’s been a long process, I think construction and development has been well over a year now,” said Tim Burdsall with the school’s student services. “So the culmination of seeing those doors open on September 4th will be really exciting for the whole community.”

For North Star’s 250 new students, educators will focus on four key traits–including commitment, compassion, curiosity, and courage.

After teaching at Elk Meadow elementary for 13 years, Harris says she is eager to implement these character traits in the classroom.

“This is just an incredible opportunity, and I am so excited to just have the kids dashing through the hallways and finding their classrooms, and just learning this process alongside with me,” she said.

Between a brand new building and experienced staff, North Star Elementary gives students a place to shine.

“The kids are just going to feel so welcomed” Harris says. “And they’re just going to be smiling and beaming from the first time they walk through those doors.”

North Star Elementary will be holding a ribbon cutting ceremony on August 29th at 4:40PM to celebrate the opening of the school.

Statewide Day of Action

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan highlights the “Day of Action” in which educators, school staff, parents, and many others across the state took to the streets to bring attention to Oregon’s lack of education funding and the impact it is having on our public schools.

MVHS Basketball Player Shooting for College Scholarship

Mountain View High School‘s point guard, Chase McClain, has made a name for himself as one of the top guards in the state and his record is garnering interest from college scouts during his senior season. However McClain’s plans don’t stop at the collegiate level, as he’d like to make it all the way to NBA.

Central Oregon Daily’s Eric Lindstrom sat down with McClain to talk about his future and how his senior season has gone so far. 

Local School Tries to Curb Vaping Trend

Vaping among young adults and children is on the rise nationally and Central Oregon school aren’t immune from the issue. With teachers and health professional concerned about the potential health risks, communities having been trying to find way to curb the trend.

In Central Oregon, La Pine High School is spear heading a program that educated parents, community members and students about vaping, vape products and the potential health risks that could accompany them. The first meeting for the community was held Thursday night but school officials have said their doors are always open if parents or community members have questions.

Central Oregon Daily’s Cydney McFarland has more.

New Elementary School Means New School Boundaries in Bend

Bend-La Pine Schools are in the process of changing school attendance boundaries in preparation for a new elementary school, slated to open next fall. This could mean big changes for students and parents as the district works to balance enrollment numbers across multiple elementary schools.
 
Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the story.

Bend Celebrates Law Enforcement Appreciation Day

Today was Law Enforcement Appreciation Day and Bend came out to celebrate our local police, sheriff’s office and state police. Central Oregon Daily’s Allison Roecker went to Bend Senior High where student wore blue in honor of law enforcement.

Proposed Boundary Changes for Bend-La Pine Schools

Proposed changes to the Bend-La Pine School attendance boundaries could mean changes for parents and students in the district next year. After weeks of public input the school board is ready to decide which of three proposals will go to the superintendent for approval. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on what kind of input the district has heard from the community.

Local Elementary School Students Connect With Students in Paradise

Weeks after the Camp Fire devastated the Northern California town of Paradise, students are now returning to school, but in nearby Oroville.
After learning about the destruction of the Ponderosa Elementary School in California, the students at Ponderosa Elementary School #inBend discovered a shared connection and are now helping the school with the same name.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has the story.

Bend-La Pine Schools