JACKSON COUNTY, Ore--- Today the Oregon Department of Education and Governor Kate Brown announced new state metrics that will allow some counties in the state of Oregon to return to in-person learning. Jackson County did not make the list.
"I am sad to report that Jackson County schools continue to be in the red," said Bret Champion, the Superintendent for the Medford School District. " We are not able to come back. All we are able to do is take small groups of kids for two hours at a time in a very limited capacity."
With the new metrics, counties must have less than 50 cases per 100,000 people within a two week time frame and a positivity rate below five percent(the two are intertwined).
Over the last two weeks, Jackson County has seen a large spike in new cases, reporting 177 new cases just last week, and more than 190 new cases this week. The county's positivity rate stands at 8.1%.
"What we are seeing is students being negatively impact from decision making from adults," said Champion. "We have got to get to the point to where wearing a mask becomes a regular thing that we do. It's not an option, it's something that we need to do."
Jackson County is still at minimum two weeks away from reopening in-person learning, if the county's case and positivity rate drop, but both Medford and Central Point School Districts are optimistic about returning back to classes.
"I think that we can have hope that these metrics will allow us to bring kids back hopefully in the next few months," said Samantha Steele, who is the Superintendent for the Central Point School District.
Samantha said that when the county returns to in-person learning, they are full prepared to go back to in-person classes without using a hybrid method. Medford School District is taking a more conservative approach.
"One of the reasons we will probably need to be in some form of hybrid learning, even if we were able to jump to green, is logistical," said Champion. "Social distancing is going to be a huge factor when we bring kids back."
Both districts said that although they understand that online learning has been a solution for kids during the Covid-19 crisis, it can't replace the importance of learning in a classroom.
"It's not just about that in-person is more effective than distance learning,: said Steele. "Students just need to be with other kids and adults."