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Schools rethink reopening plans after COVID-19 spike in Douglas County

With a spike in cases since Labor Day, the county no longer meets the metrics for certain students to return to class.

Posted: Sep 25, 2020 6:28 PM

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- An uptick in COVID-19 cases in Douglas County is forcing school districts to rethink their reopening plans, many of which involved bringing students back for in-person learning.

Public health officer Bob Dannenhoffer said they gave many districts the green light to reopen with in-person instruction earlier this summer because the county was meeting the metrics set by the state.

However, he said they’ve seen a spike in cases since Labor Day, which means the county no longer meets the metrics.

“Kids going to school is critically important, but the only way to do that is if there’s a low amount of disease in the community,” said Dannenhoffer.

In order for students to return to the classroom, the county must have no more than 10 cases per 100,000 people per week. Plus, both the state and county positivity rate must be under 5%.

"For most of August and beginning of September, we were under 10 cases per week,” said Dannenhoffer. “We've now climbed over 20 and that's a worry."

Yoncalla School District was one of the many school districts who had to make a sudden change in their plans.

Superintendent Brian Berry said they were supposed to start in-person learning on Monday.

However, he said they’re still trying to adjust to this change and prep their teachers, parents and students for distance learning.

“You know, it’s not a political thing,” said Berry. “It’s about safety. It’s about making sure our students are safe.”

He’s also asking his students to stay positive.

“We miss our students a lot,” he said. “And we’re trying to support our community.”

However, Berry said kindergarten through third grade will return to in-person learning next week because they have different metrics.

As for fourth through 12th graders, he said they’ll have to wait until the county sees no more than 10 cases for three consecutive weeks before they can start bring them back to school.

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