Rising cases force schools in Klamath County to roll back transition to in-person learning

Oregon's new metrics allowed Klamath schools to up their in-person learning, but the latest surge in COVID-19 cases has put a halt to the transition.

Posted: Nov 20, 2020 10:26 AM
Updated: Nov 20, 2020 10:27 AM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — At the beginning of November, both the Klamath County School District and Klamath Falls City Schools gave the green light to bring more students back into classrooms on a hybrid model.

The transition became possible after Governor Kate Brown and state education officials released new, more relaxed coronavirus metrics for schools — removing the statewide test positivity requirement and allowing local districts more flexibility. But a county-level metric remained, now measured in two-week increments.

For many Oregon counties with relatively low case rates, Klamath included, this meant that a return to school from grades above K-3 was finally possible. But with a statewide surge in cases now reaching practically everywhere, that brief respite is at an end.

Superintendent of Klamath Falls City Schools, Paul Hillyer, sent out a letter to families and staff on Friday, noting that Klamath County is now in the "red zone" by exceeding 200 cases per 100,000 over the past two weeks.

"This means we must return all students to comprehensive distance learning on Monday, November 20," Hillyer wrote. "In order to return grades K-6 to in-person learning, the county would need to reduce new case numbers over the next two weeks and bring our status down to the yellow or green zone."

The earliest that this could happen, Hillyer noted, would be the week of December 7. Grades 7-12 would not be able to see in-person learning until four weeks after grades K-6.

A similar statement came from Klamath County School District Superintendent Glen Szymoniak, leading with the message his district received from Klamath County Public Health.

“It is with disappointment that I find myself writing this email tonight," wrote KCPH assistant director Jessica Dale. "As of close of business today (Nov. 19), we had received enough positive test results for this week to know that when numbers post for the two week lookback on November 23, our rates will exceed 200 per 100,000. As a result, schools will need to return to comprehensive distance learning on Monday November 30, 2020.

"While the return to hybrid learning models for expanded grade levels was short lived this time around, it was undoubtedly beneficial for both the schools and the students. It is such a pleasure to work with all of you and your staff as we continue to pursue the safe return of in person education in Klamath County."

Dale note that schools with K-3 in-person learning prior to the transition, or small rural and remote schools, might be able to continue under those models, depending on the outcome of case investigations for some of the latest cases.

KCSD is on a break next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, so there will be no immediate change on Monday. But presumably, due to the two-week periods noted in by KFSD's Hillyer, it will be at least another full week before many students could possibly return to in-person learning.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313161

Reported Deaths: 3594
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah51245642
Washington34995276
Marion32577393
Clackamas26570271
Lane23989246
Jackson20977257
Deschutes16623102
Umatilla12602125
Douglas10712188
Linn1046886
Josephine8659165
Yamhill744999
Klamath643491
Polk623570
Malheur479467
Benton461927
Coos412069
Columbia324237
Jefferson313746
Lincoln276330
Union272737
Wasco239039
Crook212338
Clatsop211725
Tillamook181523
Baker174421
Morrow167921
Curry166817
Hood River163035
Harney78916
Grant7558
Lake6768
Wallowa50811
Gilliam1374
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4644566

Reported Deaths: 68019
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144512125852
Riverside3579884804
San Diego3495814009
San Bernardino3472035506
Orange3146225354
Sacramento1503072089
Santa Clara1405641841
Fresno1358611888
Kern1358421515
Alameda1162141329
Ventura976901120
San Joaquin973871615
Contra Costa95727924
Stanislaus806991234
Tulare72969896
San Mateo52239607
San Francisco51907605
Monterey49465565
Solano44151312
Santa Barbara43112500
Sonoma39441378
Merced39370535
Placer36487364
Imperial34261755
Kings30124284
San Luis Obispo28300313
Madera21707258
Butte21307230
Shasta20683276
Santa Cruz20151211
Yolo19143239
Marin17106242
El Dorado16004127
Sutter13094153
Napa1226895
Yuba926061
Nevada847685
Humboldt829587
Tehama823784
San Benito709067
Mendocino685575
Lassen637627
Tuolumne615393
Lake603687
Amador492259
Glenn398030
Siskiyou389541
Calaveras342266
Del Norte336034
Colusa290918
Inyo166539
Mono14935
Plumas12406
Mariposa99712
Trinity72010
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1650
Alpine1000
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