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Klamath County schools forge ahead with return to in-person learning

After an emergency meeting over liability concerns, the two Klamath County schools boards voted to continue plans for in-person learning.

Posted: Jan 8, 2021 3:07 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2021 3:15 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Both Klamath County and Klamath Falls City Schools will push forward with plans for a return to in-person learning despite liability concerns that provoked an emergency meeting on Thursday night.

The joint meeting on Thursday stemmed from concerns that in-person learning would leave the districts open to legal risk, as COVID-19 liability protection passed by the Oregon legislature does not cover schools that eschew state coronavirus metrics.

Ultimately, the boards decided that in-person learning was worth the risk.

“Our local public health is part of a network including Oregon Health Authority, Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization,” said KCSD superintendent Glen Szymoniak. “Klamath County Public Health is the only organization with the expertise and authority to reliably direct our decisions in this pandemic.”

Paul Hillyer, superintendent of Klamath Falls City Schools, also supported returning students to classrooms.

“The families and students feel like ping pong balls being bounced back and forth. It is wearying,” he said. “I really do believe that we are ready to have our students return in person. The work has been done.”

According to KCSD, 500 people attended Thursday's meeting which included three hours of presentations and testimony before the matter went to a vote. The vote, when it came, was unanimous.

KCSD board chair Steve Lowell said that failure rates at "one of the district's larger high schools" rose from 8 percent in the fall of 2019 to 35 percent in the most recent grading period.

“That to me is not an education,” Lowell said. “Students are in trouble. Students need to be safe. They need to be with their school community . . . I also know that when we opened up our schools, we were successful. I have to keep thinking over and over, it’s what’s best for kids.”

KFCS board chair Mychal Amos acknowledged that it was a difficult decision to make.

“I don’t think we’re going to be right on this one," Amos said. "There’s going to be a group of people who are going to be disappointed.”

Of 250 written comments submitted, KCSD said that 215 supported reopening "as soon as possible." 23 were concerned and wanted a delay.

With the unanimous vote in favor of returning to in-person learning, that process will begin on Monday, January 11. Both districts are offering remote options for families who do not want their students back in the classroom.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156287

Reported Deaths: 2252
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31935542
Washington21311212
Marion18541285
Clackamas13426183
Lane10325129
Jackson8489114
Umatilla767882
Deschutes597561
Yamhill379168
Linn360157
Malheur335358
Polk307343
Klamath279855
Douglas252755
Josephine236553
Benton234817
Jefferson196628
Coos152420
Union129519
Columbia127421
Wasco122126
Lincoln113620
Hood River106929
Morrow104914
Clatsop7776
Crook77618
Baker6639
Curry4296
Tillamook4212
Lake3786
Harney2776
Grant2251
Wallowa1425
Gilliam541
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3582320

Reported Deaths: 53083
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119601721676
Riverside2904983849
San Bernardino2870552959
Orange2617983966
San Diego2613533342
Santa Clara1110761798
Kern103756915
Fresno957851451
Sacramento937901498
Alameda809501271
Ventura77952870
San Joaquin671231150
Contra Costa62931695
Stanislaus56433953
Tulare48114768
Monterey42335329
San Mateo39148521
San Francisco34387422
Santa Barbara32147420
Solano30216165
Merced29264407
Sonoma28261301
Imperial26926638
Kings22091220
Placer19911232
San Luis Obispo19751238
Madera15523214
Santa Cruz14736183
Marin13285198
Yolo12867185
Shasta11054179
Butte11007167
El Dorado9195100
Napa908072
Sutter889998
Yuba577638
San Benito577061
Lassen562324
Tehama510452
Nevada398874
Tuolumne396659
Mendocino382643
Amador347441
Humboldt323033
Lake316941
Glenn223223
Colusa214013
Calaveras191849
Siskiyou178414
Inyo132137
Mono12144
Del Norte10085
Plumas6536
Modoc4604
Mariposa3957
Trinity3735
Sierra1000
Alpine820
Unassigned00
Medford
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Brookings
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