KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The Klamath County School District Board of Directors on Thursday joined a growing chorus of local district officials calling for Governor Kate Brown to expand in-person learning for students by revising Oregon's coronavirus metrics.
Klamath County schools, unlike their counterparts in Jackson County, were able to proceed with K-3 in-person learning until November, when COVID-19 cases began to surge. Administrators were forced to fall back after Thanksgiving, and all 6,800 KCSD students are now on comprehensive distance learning.
“One of our primary goals is to educate students well, focusing on their physical, emotional, and social wellbeing,” said Steve Lowell, chair of the KCSD Board of Directors. “Despite the efforts of our teachers, who are doing a phenomenal job, many of our students are struggling with distance learning, and their education and mental health is suffering.”
The resolution passed on Thursday by Klamath County's Board is similar to those adopted by Medford and Eagle Point, but it was not done without reservations.
“I don’t feel comfortable at this time sending a message that we want children back in schools while positive test results are so high,” Board member John Rademacher said. “I would feel better if we had a testing plan in place.”
District head nurse Laura Limb told the board that Klamath County Public Health and the CDC recommend testing when there is a strong likelihood of direct exposure, "but does not recommend frequent testing of students."
“Overall COVID-19 case numbers in the county are spiking right now, and this is not meant to be interpreted as a recommendation to return students immediately to in-person instruction,” KCSD superintendent Glen Szymoniak said. “We are just asking the state to follow the latest science so when our numbers do come down we are able to return students to the classroom.”
KCSD said in a statement that the District's in-person instruction for K-3 students and in small rural schools resulted in two cohorts quarantining due to a positive case since the school year began.