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Roseburg Public Schools will have all students back in classrooms on Jan. 25, the board decided Wednesday night.

All students in Roseburg Public Schools will be able to return to school on Jan. 25, the school board decided during Wednesday’s meeting.

Nearly 300 people attended the virtual meeting to hear what decision the board would make, and more than 20 people offered public comment on the topic of reopening schools to in-person instruction.

“Schools are not a superspreader,” parent Rachel Nielsen said. “It’s a well-known fact schools that are open in our area have not been superspreaders. And students that don’t have access to internet, or don’t have support from families — and even those that do truly are struggling.”

Elementary school teachers who had been in the classroom earlier this fall expressed that teaching was done safely.

“I’ve been really impressed with the precautions that we’ve taken to ensure that the students and the teachers are staying healthy,” Sunnyslope Elementary School teacher on special assignment Kristy Hiers said. “Students get COVID or teacher get COVID and being able to quarantine, I feel like, we’ve been able to take care of that. We haven’t seen any spreading within the school district so I feel like the measures that we’ve taken so far as a school district work. I think we can continue to let that work.”

Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon presented the board with three scenarios to bring students back to school. The board voted 5-1 in favor of the second scenario which would bring all students back on Jan. 25, elementary students will be back full time and middle and high school students will be on a hybrid schedule. Board member Charles Lee voted against the motion and board member Steve Patterson was absent.

The hybrid schedule for middle and high schoolers is to continue to follow the state guidance on keeping students safe.

“I feel very fortunate to be here tonight to witness what has occurred regarding reopening and regarding the opinions that have been shared and the passionate feelings that have been felt,” school board member Brandon Bishop said. “I have called Superintendent Cordon more times than he would normally tolerate. I have texted him many times. I have had lots of questions and I’ve discussed matters with lots of people, I have spent a lot of time researching, praying, thinking and hoping for an answer. I don’t think there’s a perfect answer here. I ask that, as we continue to work through challenges ahead, that we do so with patience and grace for those that have different opinions than our own.”

The school board did make it clear that the district will continue to follow all state guidelines and monitor the COVID-19 data.

Roseburg Education Association President Camron Pope said prior to the decision being made that the union would prefer that all grades return to school at the same time and that Jan. 25 would be a good time, because of the school calendar. The new semester at Roseburg schools would start on Jan. 25.

And even though there were teachers in favor of reopening, there were also several teachers who expressed concerns about opening the buildings up to students.

“Lessons can retaught, classes can be retaken, but lives lost are never coming back,” Roseburg High School drama teacher Christina Moroney said.

Moroney was one of five people who spoke out against opening schools this month. There were 18 people who spoke out in favor of reopening.

Lisa Doggett made a tearful plea to reopen schools because of the emotional toll the school closure had on her sixth-grade son.

“He has been in a serious depression with all of this,” she said. “He has had serious thoughts of committing suicide. It is very serious. Part of the reason for this was because of school; he was not able to have that connection, he’s failing all of his classes, and because of that he’s having a very hard struggle.”

Doggett then read part of a suicide note her son wrote out. “I just hate waking up every day and hating myself in my body, and going straight to school and doing nothing all day,” Doggett read while tearing up. “I’m failing all my classes. The last thing I wish before I go is that you take care of my birds.”

Several other speakers also talked about the emotional impact of the closure, the rate of failing students and the struggle not just for students and teachers but for the community as a whole.

In addition to reopening schools, other topics brought up at the board meeting were:

  • Roseburg Mayor Larry Rich presented the school board with a proclamation for School Board Recognition Month.
  • Approving a seismic project manager at Fremont Middle School has been postponed until next week.
  • Chief Operation Officer Cheryl Northam was given signing authority for the purchase of two properties on Selmar Court.

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

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(14) comments

Mike

23 new coronavirus cases were reported in today’s press release from the County Commissioners Coronavirus Task Force. This brings Douglas County totals to 1,509 cases and 42 deaths.

Roseburg’s Veteran Affairs reported 2 new coronavirus cases and 1 death since yesterday, bringing Roseburg’s VA totals to 166 cases and 6 deaths.

The Commissioners Response Team reported 174 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks which calculates to a 14-day case rate of 155.0 today for Douglas County, which is less than the case rate of 200 required for in-dining restaurants, bars, theaters and health clubs to reopen.

The County Commissioners Coronavirus Response Team reported 174 coronavirus cases and the OHA reported Douglas County received 2,476 test results over the past two weeks. Dividing 174 cases by 2,476 test results gives Douglas County a 14-day positive test rate of 7.0% today.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 169 new coronavirus cases and 2 deaths in Josephine County today. The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 1,410 cases and 22 deaths over the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 862 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths today in Oregon. Oregon’s 7-day positive test rate is 6.5% today, compared to Douglas County’s 7-day positive test rate of 9.7% today.

The Oregon Health Authority tracks hospital statistics for seven different regions in Oregon. Region 3 consists of Douglas, Coos, Curry and Lane Counties. The OHA reported there are 12 ICU beds and 102 non-ICU beds available in Region 3 today. 35 coronavirus cases are hospitalized in Region 3 today. There were 91 new coronavirus cases reported in Region 3 today.

Mike

Today’s County Commissioners Coronavirus Task Force press release addresses the coronavirus vaccine by saying if you have questions, “We ask that you not call us.”

http://douglaspublichealthnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/1-07-2021-DCCRT-DAILY-UPDATE-COVID-19.pdf

Melly

This from the Oregonian by way of the Associated Press: "Legacy Health wasted 27 doses when it couldn’t find health care workers to take surplus vaccine before it expired." This kind of stupidity is what worries me. Staff could have stepped outside their door and recruited 27 people off the street rather than waste precious vaccine. Bone Headed! Here's the link to the article:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/report-2-portland-hospitals-waste-covid-19-vaccine-doses/ar-BB1cyLYg

NJ

When I called my elderly family member's clinic yesterday, I asked if he could come in to get a vaccination and was told, "no, we don't do that here, you have to call the DC Health Network". Was it not reported that vaccinations weren't being given because people weren't making appointments to get them? Pretty sure it was. Oregon's Covid Dashboard indicates that 2,250 over the age of 80 have been vaccinated. The DC Health Network Covid Task Force report from yesterday is about testing only, nothing about a vaccination plan/schedule. I have to wonder exactly what the hold up is here in Douglas County.

st paddy

i think the county commissioners and their cronies have to get theirs first

Mike

Yesterday’s press release headline from our County Commissioner said, “Douglas County, Oregon had the lowest 7-day COVID new case count in the United States.”

The next headline announced that Douglas County’s 42nd death was a 60 year young resident. Need I say more.

http://douglaspublichealthnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/1-06-2021-DCCRT-DAILY-UPDATE-COVID-19.pdf

Mike

Were there representatives from the teachers there to ask about them being vaccinated?

OregonHusker

Dr. Fauci said things are about to get much worse, but let's go ahead and reopen the schools. What could go wrong?

Mike

How come this article doesn't mention anything about the vulnerable TEACHERS and other school workers being vaccinated before school starts on January 25? Wouldn't that help to alieve some of the fears of catching the virus many of the teachers have expressed in the past?

Sanne Godfrey Staff
Sanne Godfrey

It doesn't include it, because there is no conclusive information that teachers will or won't be vaccinated before Jan. 25.

Mike

Are you saying it wasn't discussed in the meeting?

Sanne Godfrey Staff
Sanne Godfrey

No. I'm saying it wasn't the main topic of discussion. And when it was brought up there was no clear answer. As you pointed out in other comments there's no real clarity from health officials on vaccinations. So, I don't want to add a lot of speculative comments, but it's possible teachers will be eligible for vaccinations by the end of the month. It's also possible that it will take much longer. Currently about 100 people a day are being vaccinated for COVID-19 in Douglas County, which means if all county teachers were to be vaccinated it would take months. It's possible that it will start going faster, it's possible that the county will receive other vaccines. But that's a lot of "possibly" and not a lot of clarity.

There will be an article forthcoming about vaccinations. It's a complicated topic that deserves its own spotlight and reporting.

Mike

There have been low days and high days. Douglas County vaccinated exactly 359 people over the last week. Very few were vaccinated on weekends. That's and average of 51 people per day.

Mike

It's my understanding teachers and educational staff including day care workers have been added to the 1a. group to be vaccinated first.

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