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A map of Oregon showing the school reopening status per county based on the current health metrics. Counties that are colored green can operate under the On-Site model, yellow is the On-Site and Distance Learning model, orange the Transition model, and red the Distance Learning model.

The youngest Roseburg Public School students will return to distance learning, as COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates continue to climb in Douglas County.

Throughout the county schools are making decisions on how to continue education.

The decision whether to stay open or return to distance learning belongs to each school district, as nearly all schools in Douglas County opened to on-site, in-person learning prior to Oct. 30 and fall under a Safe Harbor Clause from the Oregon Department of Education.

“We have been working closely with the Douglas Public Health Network and consulting with Douglas County Public Health Officer Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer regarding our district’s status. Dr. Dannenhoffer strongly recommends that Roseburg Public Schools close to in-person learning until case numbers decline,” said Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon.

Dannenhoffer and other members from the local public health network will offer advice to school districts on the spread of coronavirus within each community in Douglas County and the role of schools. But the final decision will be made by the school district itself.

Camas Valley Charter School Superintendent Don Wonsley said Monday that on-site learning would continue in his school district.

“When we met and discussed the situation, the staff thought it was in the best interest of the kids and families to keep on-site learning happening at the school,” Wonsley said Friday. On Monday he added, “We will continue with on-site learning unless there are other cohorts that are affected in the school or Douglas Health thinks it is in the best interest of our community and school to pause.”

A bus driver for Camas Valley Charter School tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and 47 students were asked to quarantine for 14 days, and will transition to distance learning.

Douglas County had 209.4 cases per 100,000 people and a test positivity of 13.4 % during the two-week period ending Nov. 14, according to data released by the Oregon Health Authority on Monday. This means the county has officially shifted into the Distance Learning instructional model according to the latest state health metrics.

Schools that opened under the new metrics, which were released on Oct. 30, will be required to make the transition to distance learning by Friday. Schools were in the Transition model last week and had been informed by the local public health agency that the numbers were likely to increase. State guidance applies to both public and private schools.

However, school districts that were operating in compliance with previous metrics could continue operating under a Safe Harbor Clause until Jan. 4.

Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said, “I would not advise this, especially if the cases are in their communities/schools.” There have been at least 23 COVID-19 cases, positive and presumed positive, in Douglas County kindergarten through 12th-grade schools.

Roseburg Public Schools, Days Creek Charter School, Reedsport Community Charter School and Elkton Charter School will be making the switch to distance learning.

In Roseburg, grades 4-12 are already participating in distance learning, the preschool through third grade classes will start distance learning on Nov. 23. Athletic and activity practices will be paused by the school district until at least Dec. 7, depending on the metrics.

South Umpqua School District, Sutherlin School District and Camas Valley Charter School will continue with on-site instruction.

“Although Douglas County COVID-19 case counts have been very high, Dr. Dannenhoffer confirmed that Myrtle Creek, Tri City, and Canyonville communities are not particular hot spots,” said South Umpqua School District Superintendent Kate McLaughlin. “This means we are able to continue with our current in-person plans, even though our county is technically in the ‘red zone’ on the metrics chart.”

Other Douglas County schools are waiting to make an official announcement. Winston-Dillard School District, for example, announced its school board would make a final decision during Wednesday’s regular board meeting.

A school can decide to take a pause, but Oregon Department of Education spokesperson Peter Rudy said schools would need to fall in the On-Site or On-Site and Distance Learning categories before students would be able to go back to school buildings following a “pause.”

Schools that do initiate distance learning will have to continue teaching remotely until the case rate per 100,000 drops below 100 and the test positivity rate is below 8% during a two-week period, also known as the On-Site and Distance Learning model. Schools can start planning a transition when the case rate per 100,000 is at or below 200 and the test positivity at or below 10% during a two-week period.

Under the Distance Learning model, schools may continue to offer limited in-person instruction to specific groups of students based on their needs, such as special education, English language learners and career, technical educational. This education would be in addition to comprehensive learning and would not count toward instructional time requirements set by the state.

Small and remote schools, both public and private, can also continue to offer in-person education. However, the state has adjusted its classification of small and remote schools since Oct. 30. Currently, small and remote schools are considered those with an enrollment at or below 75 students and located more than 25 miles from any town or city with a population over 3,000 people. Those schools can only open if there is no community spread in areas served by the school or community spread in primary places of employment or community centers.

Glide School District can also offer instruction to students directly impacted by wildfires. No other schools in Douglas County fall under that exception.

The statewide two-week freeze that was announced Friday by Gov. Kate Brown will not have a direct impact on school openings or closing, however, they are asked to help in the effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Require work from home opportunities when possible for staff,” Gill told superintendents Friday. “It is allowable for staff to be on campus to provide in-person instruction, for stable internet, and for other services deemed essential by the employer.”

Additionally, schools are asked to communicate about the travel advisory, ensure strong screening protocols, emphasize the key practices for reducing the spread in schools, watch for an updated athletic guidance, and to review facility use agreements for other uses.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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(7) comments

Mike

Douglas County Public Health Officer Dr. Dannenhoffer untruthfully said, “Although Douglas County COVID-19 case counts have been very high, Myrtle Creek, Tri City, and Canyonville communities are not particular hot spots.”

Myrtle Creek and Tri City are in zip code 97457 which had 61 coronavirus cases over a week ago on November 8, according to the Oregon Health Authority weekly report (below link). Canyonville’s zip code 97417 had between 1 and 9 cases on November 8.

It’s unfortunate Dr. Dannenhoffer can’t be truthful with the public.

https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/DISEASESCONDITIONS/DISEASESAZ/Emerging%20Respitory%20Infections/COVID-19-Weekly-Report-2020-11-12-FINAL.pdf

Mike

A RECORD 33 new coronavirus cases and 1 more death were reported today by the County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team, bringing the total to 678 cases and 12 deaths. That’s 55 cases and 2 deaths over the past two days in Douglas County.

The Roseburg Veterans Affairs reported 5 more coronavirus cases since yesterday, increasing their total case count to 71.

The Commissioners Response Team reported 278 coronavirus cases and received 1,789 test results over the past two weeks in Douglas County. Dividing 278 cases by 1,789 test results gives Douglas County a RECORD 14-day positive test rate of 15.5% today. The school re-opening metric is a maximum of 5.0%.

The 278 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks represent a RECORD HIGH 14-day case rate of 250.5 today for Douglas County. The school re-opening metric is a maximum of 50.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 171 new coronavirus cases and 1 death in Lane County today and 1,237 cases and 7 deaths over the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 924 new coronavirus cases and 13 deaths, the second highest, in Oregon today. The 7-day positive test rate for Oregon is 13.8% today.

The OHA reports, for the second day in a row, that 40 people are currently on ventilators state-wide today. Other than yesterday, this is the highest number since April 17.

CitizenJoe

It is amazing how long people can camp on the banks of Denial, believing that crocodiles are not real...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/11/16/south-dakota-nurse-coronavirus-deniers/

mworden

Thank you, N-R and Sanne for publishing more detailed info on the impact of pandemic.

GhostofTMcCall

[thumbup]

melrosereader

Wear your masks, people.

And ignore the example of people like Clackamas County Commission Chair Tootie Smith who intends to not only defy Governor Brown's guidance about Thanksgiving dinner, but to invite as many people as she possibly can.

CitizenJoe

melrosereader: yes. And ignore Scott Atlas. Don't have a big Thanksgiving just because it's gonna be Granny's last. Kinda a self-fulfilling epitaph.

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