PORTLAND, Ore. — Governor Kate Brown said on Monday that she is prepared to announced much-anticipated coronavirus "metrics" this week that are vital for school districts preparing for the coming academic year.
While most districts have so far prepared for a combination of in-person and online learning, it's become increasingly clear with case counts rising statewide that — at least in some areas — having students return to school may be off the table.
Guidance provided by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) in June, which allowed for in-person learning only with built-in social distancing, received a major update on July 22 with face coverings now required for all students.
Governor Brown indicated at the time that in-person classes might prove impossible if the spread of coronavirus continues unabated, but those decisions now hinge on the coming metrics from ODE and the Oregon Health Authority.
"The metrics to be used are based on the number of COVID-19 cases and the COVID-19 positivity rate per capita –– both on a county and statewide level –– setting requirements for when it is safe for in-person instruction to resume, and when the level of COVID-19 spread in a community would warrant a transition to comprehensive distance learning," Brown's office said.
According to the Governor's office, the current metrics suggest that "many, if not most" Oregon students will have to attend school via distance learning or a hybrid model in the fall.
"Districts across the state have been developing plans to provide high quality education to all students, including students of color, low-income students, students experiencing disabilities, and rural students –– all students who were disproportionately impacted by the institution of comprehensive distance education last spring," the Governor's office said.
The Governor said that she would hold a press briefing on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., accompanied by officials from ODE and OHA. After that, it will be up to each individual district to base their plans on the metrics going forward.