Gov. Brown: Officials revisiting school COVID-19 metrics, but rising spread presents a problem

The state is reviewing metrics that determine whether students can return with in-person learning, Governor Brown said on Wednesday — but rising cases are complicating the process.

Posted: Oct 21, 2020 5:11 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2020 5:17 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Despite efforts to re-examine Oregon's coronavirus metrics for schools, a statement from Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday indicated that increasing community spread in many counties will continue to prevent a return to in-person classes.

Brown said that her Healthy Schools Reopening Council had met on Wednesday to review the steps Oregon can take to return more students to in-person instruction, now that there is burgeoning data from other areas of the country. Oregon's original metrics were released back in July.

However, even if those metrics are tweaked, Brown stressed that most students in Oregon would remain on distance learning with COVID-19 case rates at current levels.

“In order to get our kids back into the classroom, we need concerted, community-wide efforts to drive down COVID-19 case rates––by wearing face coverings, watching our physical distance, washing our hands, and forgoing large social gatherings,” said Governor Brown. “It’s on all of us to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, so we can open schools and keep them open safely."

Oregon continues to exceed the statewide metric of 5 percent test positivity, with the Oregon Health Authority reporting a positivity rate of 6.5 percent last week despite a slight decline in case numbers from the week prior.


RELATED: Oregon Health Authority further expands face covering requirements with update


According to Brown's office, only two counties currently meet Oregon's metrics for in-person learning at all grade levels. Seven counties meet the metric for K-3 in-person learning — down from 20 counties at the beginning of the school year. About 45,000 students currently receive at least some in-person instruction in Oregon schools, according to Oregon Department of Education figures.

Wednesday's meeting identified three main "areas of work," Brown's office said — reviewing state metrics to reflect the latest data and best practices from other states, making sure that schools are prepared for a safe return to in-person learning, and driving down community spread of COVID-19.

Brown acknowledged that schools provide more than just learning to Oregon students, and that distance learning has had a disparate impact on many families, particularly in communities of color.

"Distance learning is exponentially more difficult for parents who can’t stay home, because they work in essential sectors like the service industry, construction, manufacturing, and agriculture. Not every home in every county has reliable access to broadband or learning devices for all children," Brown said. "And, unfortunately, too many students do not have a stable place to call home. These are the kids who need in-person instruction the most. The kids for whom a smile in the classroom or a helping hand in the lunchroom means everything.”

Brown's statement on Wednesday did not provide a timeline for when state metrics could see changes, or what those changes might look like.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314841

Reported Deaths: 3624
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah51325643
Washington35086277
Marion32748396
Clackamas26680275
Lane24145248
Jackson21050257
Deschutes16703103
Umatilla12736125
Douglas10795188
Linn1051487
Josephine8685169
Yamhill752099
Klamath651892
Polk629171
Malheur485567
Benton463728
Coos420669
Columbia325439
Jefferson315347
Lincoln277930
Union274838
Wasco242339
Crook213639
Clatsop213225
Tillamook182023
Baker176123
Morrow168621
Curry167817
Hood River163435
Harney82319
Grant7848
Lake6988
Wallowa50811
Gilliam1374
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4651497

Reported Deaths: 68087
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144634825870
Riverside3583834802
San Diego3502674021
San Bernardino3475745507
Orange3150815355
Sacramento1507202105
Santa Clara1407321841
Kern1362881521
Fresno1361631889
Alameda1164051330
Ventura978991120
San Joaquin975341615
Contra Costa95858924
Stanislaus808921235
Tulare73111896
San Mateo52311607
San Francisco52008605
Monterey49485565
Solano44247312
Santa Barbara43189500
Sonoma39476378
Merced39446536
Placer36612364
Imperial34285755
Kings30179285
San Luis Obispo28351313
Madera21749263
Butte21379231
Shasta20763279
Santa Cruz20176211
Yolo19192239
Marin17127242
El Dorado16037127
Sutter13122153
Napa1228795
Yuba928061
Nevada850185
Humboldt831988
Tehama827784
San Benito709567
Mendocino691176
Lassen637927
Tuolumne616993
Lake605887
Amador493059
Glenn399030
Siskiyou391541
Calaveras342766
Del Norte339034
Colusa291018
Inyo166739
Mono14935
Plumas12406
Mariposa100712
Trinity72610
Modoc6278
Unassigned2120
Sierra1980
Alpine1000
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