MEDFORD, Ore. -- In a Facebook Live press conference on Monday, Governor Kate Brown was joined by Oregon Department of Education director Colt Gill, and Yosalin Arenas Alvarez — a South Medford High School student and a student member of my Healthy Schools Reopening Council — addressed the return of Oregon students to classrooms.
"Its truly a moment worth celebrating," said Gov. Brown. "I know that students, parents, educators and all of us have been looking forward to this for months."
For over a year now, Oregon students have mostly been restricted to comprehensive distance learning, with only limited in-person learning available to some students. The effects of CDL have taken their toll on Oregon's students — whether that be mentally, physically, or their drive to want to continue to learn.
Although the challenges of students having to learn in CDL haven't been easy, Colt Gill says that Oregon's students will be stronger than ever going forward, especially after dealing with this type of adversity.
"I believe that we are stronger today," Gill said. "We have certainly learned a lot, but not just about Covid-19 and how to prevent exposure and spread. But about our inner strength and how to face new challenges and grow from our experiences."
According to Yosalin Alvarez, although her senior year traditions at South Medford have been cancelled or changed because of the pandemic, that's the last thing on her mind.
Her biggest concern, is the stress, anxiety, depression and grief that many students are having to deal with because of the Covid-19 pandemic. She also says that she is just glad that students can return to some sort of normalcy with the return of more in-person instruction and hopes that the healing process can begin.
"I went back home on Wednesday to go show some freshmen around and they loved being on campus," said Alvarez. "A lot of them came to me and told me about their stress, anxiety and depression. Although it was really nerve racking, I was able to connect them with various sources to help to get them the help that they needed."
"I would like to thank Oregon students who have persevered during this difficult year," said Gov. Brown. "Distance learning has never ever been attempted on such a large scale and I know it hasn't been easy."