SALEM, Ore. – Public schools in the state of Oregon will soon be returning to in-person learning, Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday.
The governor plans on issuing an executive order to bring students back into the classroom.
All public schools will be required under this directive to offer access to full or hybrid in-person learning on or before the week of March 29 for kindergarten through fifth grade and the week of April 19 for students in sixth through 12th grades.
Officials with Eugene School District 4J and Springfield Public Schools said the timeline announced by the governor is similar to what they have already planned. Both districts are waiting for more detailed information and guidance before finalizing their schedule for a return to in-person learning.
"Thanks to the smart choices Oregonians have made, our COVID-19 numbers have declined,” Brown said. “All but six counties now meet or exceed Oregon’s advisory metrics for a return to in-person, hybrid learning for all K-12 grade levels. And, five of those counties meet the advisory metrics for a return to elementary school."
With the proper safety measures in place, Brown said there is a low risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.
However, in order to reopen to in-person learning, counties must meet or exceed the current advisory metrics for reopening.
Also, students may continue with comprehensive distance learning if their parents so choose. And if community transmission rates spike, all students will return to remote learning.
“Closing schools in Oregon is a decision I will never forget. Parents, educators, school staff, but especially students have come so far while navigating the challenges of this pandemic. Welcoming students back to every school across Oregon will be a milestone worth celebrating,” Brown said.
KEZI 9 News talked to Anna Lidbeck, a mother with children in the Harrisburg School District.
“I am very thankful and excited for our students across the state to be in classrooms again,” Lidbeck said. “I’m very glad our governor is recognizing the need.”
Sabrina Gordon, president of the Eugene Education Association, also shared her thoughts. She said the executive order doesn’t change much for the 4J and Bethel school districts.
“Teachers have been working with both 4J and Bethel school districts over the past several weeks to gear up for bringing students back in a larger capacity,” Gordon said. “We’ve been meeting at all levels — elementary, middle school andhigh school making plans in earnest. I think that what we've been planning is pretty well in line with what the governor ordered this morning.”
She said it’s important to create learning opportunities that are equitable for all students.
“We’ve got many students and families who are going to choose to remain learning virtually for lots of reasons, and we have to create a plan that meets the needs of the kids that will come back in person, as well as the needs who are going to stay home,” Gordon said.
Gordon said this is going to be a gradual process.
“We need to continue working together and being patient and just recognizing that in order to stay safe and to be equitable for all of our students — we just need to take this slowly and carefully. We’re just excited that kids are coming back soon," she said.