Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s “two-week freeze” in effect from Nov. 18 to Dec. 2 will not change the metrics or the rules that allow schools and school districts to continue operating, said David Marshall, Brookings Harbor School District (BHSD) Superintendent.
The two-week freeze announced on Friday, Nov. 13 was set in place to help stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Oregon and conserve hospital capacity. The freeze outlines new or reinstated restrictions for restaurants, venues, businesses, and social gatherings.
BHSD recently added additional grades in morning and afternoon in-person classes. They also continue to offer online-only options for students via the Brookings-Harbor Online Academy. Until further notice, BHSD will continue with in-person learning in its three schools for grades Kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth grade, and ninth grade, with plans to move forward with the current reopening plan to bring back remaining grades in December (seventh, eighth, 10th, 11th, and 12th). This gradual return to classrooms has been intentional and allows time to make any needed adjustments in procedures as increased numbers of students come on campus for instruction, Marshall said. “Our priority is to bring the students back on campus safely. Working together as a community to limit the spread of the virus will help keep the students safe in class.”
Some of the precautions that schools must follow include all students and staff wearing masks or OHA approved face coverings. Schools maintain six-foot physical distancing and must provide 35 square feet of space per person in each classroom. Students are required to frequently wash or sanitize their hands and classrooms are sanitized each day between sessions. A growing body of evidence that indicates that the use of these measures together substantially reduces the risk of virus transmission.
The district will also continue to offer some “Limited In-Person” support services and hands-on classes for students, as well as foodservice, including free “Grab and Go” food distribution for all youth ages one to 18-years-old in the community with pick up available Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Brookings-Harbor High School parking lot.
After-school and athletics activities are under consideration and an update from ODE or the Governor’s office is expected early next week.
“It is concerning that the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Curry County is trending upwards,” he said. “The District continues to closely monitor the case numbers and positivity rates. The District is also working collaboratively with Curry County Public Health to determine if the situation in Brookings changes to a level that warrants a change in plans. Close collaboration between Brookings-Harbor School District and Curry County Public Health also allows for rapid response to cases or exposures within schools.”
The metrics provided by Oregon Department of Education establish four zones that determine the options associated with offering in-person education available to Oregon districts.
• In the green zone, districts can bring students K-12 back on campus for instruction following the Ready Schools, Safe Learners requirements. Curry County was in the green zone two weeks ago.
• In the yellow zone, districts can continue to bring students on campus for instruction with a priority to elementary grades. If elementary grades are successfully operating, districts can add secondary grades. As of last Monday, Curry County was in the yellow zone as a result of our test positivity rate.
• In the orange zone, districts must pause adding any new grades to on-site instruction, but may continue with grades already on-site if there is not an indication from the local health authority of community spread or spread within the school system.
• In the red zone, districts must pause in-person instruction and resume distance learning K-12. The most current official school metrics report, or a dashboard visualization of the re-opening metrics can be found by following the links.
In the event that Curry County records 60 active cases or greater in the most recent two weeks or test positivity exceeds 10 percent (red zone), all Curry County schools will return to comprehensive distance learning only. The two-week metrics data that schools in Oregon use are updated every Monday afternoon or early evening. When the data for the most recent two weeks are released, the school will post any updates on it’s website.
If you have questions, concerns, or feedback for the district about reopening, there is an opportunity to complete a fall learning feedback survey, and attend a virtual information session from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. next Thursday, Nov. 19, for additional updates and questions and answers about reopening. A link to the virtual event will be posted on the BHSD website.
“Thank you for your flexibility, and ongoing support of our students and teachers,” Marshall said. “It is vital that we all do our part to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”