MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford School District's Board of Directors passed a resolution Thursday night, asking Governor Kate Brown to loosen COVID-19 metrics in order to bring more students back into classrooms.
NewsWatch 12 spoke with School Board member Cynthia Wright this week, ahead of the meeting, about the the prospect of that resolution.
"The Medford School Board urges Governor Brown to prioritize the return of all students in grades K-5, with an ultimate goal of returning all students to school, by establishing metrics that follow the science and align with many states and countries which have prioritized education first and foremost by reopening schools, or delegating authority to local districts to decide when it is appropriate for these students to safely return to school," the Board said in a Friday statement.
Even with Governor Brown and state officials loosening Oregon's school metrics at the end of October, the surge in cases statewide has all but prevented expansion of in-person learning.
School districts in Jackson County have been almost entirely relegated to comprehensive distance learning since the beginning of the school year due to ongoing high coronavirus case rates. While there has been no indication that the spread in Jackson County is dropping off — quite the opposite — MSD's Board of Directors posits that the risk is low for reopening Medford schools.
"Findings from other states and countries where schools reopened are demonstrating that schools are not super spreader events, but in fact, serve as guardians against transmission because social distancing and masking are adhered to, contact tracing is performed, and robust communication with local public health authority occurs," the Board said. "While the MSD has had cases, at the time this letter was drafted, it has not had a single outbreak. A strong commitment to safety has made this possible."
Beyond passing the resolution, the MSD Board is now urging other local districts to pass similar resolutions, and asking people in the community to sign a form supporting the document.
"We will be sending the full list of supporters to Governor Brown, state elected officials, and the Oregon Department of Education," the Board said. "For your school board, please consider supporting this effort by passing a similar resolution in your school district. If you are interested in doing so, we are happy to send you an editable version of our resolution as a starting point."
MSD's Board indicated that they are hoping to have supporting statements gathered by December 21 before officially sending out the resolution.