KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore-- On Saturday, Klamath Country School District announced that all of its students, including K-3 and students in rural schools, will be returning to comprehensive distance learning on Monday, Nov. 30.
Late Friday evening, Klamath County Public Health says they completed a significant portion of new case investigations which showed that new COVID-19 case rates in the county exceeded 200 per 100,000. With the state metrics set by Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Education, this meant that students will be required to return to comprehensive distance learning after the Thanksgiving break.
Jessica Dale, who is the Klamath County Public Health Assistant Director, sent an email to district superintendents yesterday, informing them that schools will have to transition back online.
"Though previous recommendations have been to continue in-person education based on limited community spread and no impact to school communities, we now find ourselves in a different situation,” Dale said. “We remain strong advocates for the importance of in-person learning for the social, emotional, and physical health of our community youth. However, we also are dedicated to making recommendations that place safety and community health at the forefront. … We look forward to our continued collaboration as we bring students back to in person learning as soon as it is safe to do so."
Some superintendents were disappointed with the news, including Glen Szymoniak, who is the superintendent for the Klamath County School District.
"Our schools have been doing an exemplary job, and it was great to see all of our students in class last week,” he said. “However, with the upward trend of cases in our community, we must prioritize the safety of our students and staff and do our part to minimize any spread of the virus."
After the Thanksgiving break, all students, even those who have not done comprehensive distance learning before, will be contacted by their schools.
According to the state's metrics for reopening in-person learning, cases for a county must be under 68 over a two-week period and must have a positivity rate below eight percent.
Over the the last week, Klamath County has reported 130 new cases, with 75 new cases being reported for the county yesterday. Both of those number are new records for the coronavirus for the county.
“We worked hard to bring our all of our students back into the classrooms, and we encourage everyone to do their part to bring our case numbers down,” he said. “As the holidays approach, how our community chooses to celebrate will make a difference. Let’s work together so our students can return to their classrooms.”