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: 190804

Reported Deaths: 2528
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37830583
Washington25279229
Marion21739306
Clackamas17107209
Lane12799145
Jackson10716135
Deschutes866973
Umatilla814084
Linn479867
Yamhill441175
Klamath430861
Polk369952
Malheur349861
Josephine330268
Douglas322070
Benton302619
Jefferson216734
Coos204633
Columbia170526
Union144423
Lincoln137020
Wasco137028
Hood River117930
Morrow110015
Crook106520
Clatsop9738
Baker94614
Curry6459
Tillamook6363
Grant5065
Lake4447
Harney3378
Wallowa1825
Gilliam621
Sherman581
Wheeler281
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3757115

Reported Deaths: 62280
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123542224008
Riverside2990644587
San Bernardino2965144697
San Diego2777593725
Orange2707055005
Santa Clara1188512085
Kern1089931373
Sacramento1041761672
Fresno1016251684
Alameda875851545
Ventura808421011
San Joaquin730091391
Contra Costa68503804
Stanislaus619161055
Tulare49554839
Monterey43563382
San Mateo41844568
San Francisco36616543
Santa Barbara34306453
Solano32752249
Merced31743458
Sonoma29975318
Imperial28352721
Kings22965246
Placer22550290
San Luis Obispo21282260
Madera16439242
Santa Cruz16188206
Marin14034228
Yolo13875209
Shasta12071226
Butte11943199
El Dorado10111112
Napa984981
Sutter9411111
Yuba622146
San Benito604863
Lassen569824
Tehama555358
Nevada470775
Tuolumne412364
Mendocino406149
Humboldt393539
Amador365147
Lake346743
Glenn238125
Colusa223016
Siskiyou218123
Calaveras212153
Inyo142638
Del Norte13678
Mono12804
Plumas7066
Modoc4954
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned330
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