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SchoolWatch: Eagle Point Schools join push for local control of COVID-19 measures

The Eagle Point School Board passed a resolution lobbying Governor Brown to hand back control over decisions like masking to school and public health authorities.

Posted: Aug 13, 2021 1:19 PM
Updated: Aug 13, 2021 1:27 PM

EAGLE POINT, Ore. — The Eagle Point School District has joined their counterparts in Medford in lobbying Governor Kate Brown to return decisions over coronavirus countermeasures in schools to local school and public health officials.

The Eagle Point School District 9 Board of Directors passed a resolution this week to urge Governor Brown for a return to local control, asking that EPSD be allowed to work with Jackson County Public Health on determining "the appropriate mitigation strategies for our schools."

Brown directed the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Education at the end of July to require masks indoors for K-12 students and staff. That mandate was followed this week by a broad requirement statewide for everyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated, in indoor public spaces.

The Governor's decisions come amid a statewide surge in both COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, overwhelming the ability of healthcare systems to handle the volume of sick patients with staffing stretched incredibly thin.

In a letter accompanying the resolution, Superintendent Andrew Kovach acknowledged the existing threat from the Delta variant while echoing the demand for local control.

"We understand perfectly that the arrival of the Delta variant is significant and that we at EPSD9 would have needed to review our planned procedures for the coming school year whether or not your office had taken any action," Kovach wrote. "We understand as well that your decision gave us, the leadership of this school district, short-term political cover for an unpopular decision that we would quite possibly have had to make ourselves."

Nevertheless, Kovach said that Brown's decision to take back local control after only few weeks of restoring that authority is "harmful in the long-term," eroding trust in the Governor's future decisions and undermining faith that local institutions can make difficult decisions.

Brown said in a press conference Wednesday that local officials had not reacted quickly enough to the current conditions, forcing her hand.

"In late January, Eagle Point was one of the first Oregon school districts to return to in-person instruction," Kovach continued. "We did so safely with robust systems that maintained a low rate (10%) of quarantine for many months. We did so while the larger proportion of Oregon students, including children of color and children in poverty, remained in virtual instruction."

Kovach asked Brown to give the resolution her "strongest consideration."

While COVID-19 has proven to be less harmful to children and teens than older adults, the advent of the Delta variant and widespread availability of vaccines has changed the landscape of where cases are emerging. Because the vaccines are not yet approved for children under 12 and vaccination rates are highest among seniors, cases are skewing younger.

Jackson County Public Health reported Friday that only 7 percent of recent cases are among people 70 and older, while ages 19 and younger represented 15 percent of cases. Ages 20 through 39 amounted to 39 percent of cases. About 30 percent of cases were 50 or older.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4848946

Reported Deaths: 71328
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148303126527
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3666614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
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