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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: 65170

Reported Deaths: 820
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah14988210
Washington881596
Marion8321127
Clackamas535376
Umatilla409948
Lane382037
Jackson335623
Malheur230839
Deschutes191114
Yamhill156516
Linn126018
Polk105115
Douglas80415
Jefferson76511
Benton7097
Union6912
Klamath6854
Morrow6197
Lincoln56313
Wasco47218
Josephine4314
Columbia4223
Coos3831
Hood River3611
Clatsop3330
Baker2573
Crook1906
Grant1221
Tillamook1110
Curry1052
Lake980
Harney861
Wallowa702
Sherman230
Gilliam210
Wheeler20
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1114524

Reported Deaths: 18726
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles3645207438
San Bernardino845311129
Riverside806761400
San Diego71648968
Orange696941554
Kern38316445
Fresno35973471
Sacramento33133546
Santa Clara30676463
Alameda27485499
San Joaquin24649503
Contra Costa22412258
Stanislaus20370416
Tulare19752303
Ventura18040174
Imperial15053353
San Francisco14445158
Monterey13886113
San Mateo13203169
Sonoma11428155
Merced10986176
Santa Barbara10922133
Kings1003886
Solano934980
Marin7518128
Placer577867
Madera571480
San Luis Obispo561835
Yolo419975
Shasta409542
Santa Cruz389827
Butte366459
Napa275717
Sutter263813
El Dorado19304
San Benito174115
Yuba173210
Lassen14803
Tehama143523
Mendocino138522
Nevada10189
Lake83218
Glenn8296
Humboldt7309
Tuolumne7088
Colusa6426
Mono4993
Siskiyou4951
Amador45016
Calaveras43421
Inyo28316
Del Norte2731
Plumas1770
Trinity1130
Modoc1110
Mariposa1042
Alpine420
Sierra170
Unassigned00
Medford
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