Roseburg Public Schools has delayed the start of in-person, on-site learning for fourth and fifth graders until at least Dec. 7 due to the increase in COVID-19 cases.

Students were scheduled to start Nov. 16, but data released by the Oregon Health Authority on Monday showed that Douglas County had more than 100 cases per 100,000 people and a test positivity of 9.1% in the two-week period ending Nov. 7.

“While we did experience a window for reopening to fourth- and fifth-graders, we believe that, due to the upward trend in COVID cases locally, the most responsible decision is to delay our plans for these grade levels,” Superintendent Jared Cordon wrote in a press release.

If cases start to decrease, the fourth and fifth graders would start on Dec. 7. Douglas County will need to have less than 100 cases per 100,000 people and a test positivity rate below 8% for that to be possible.

The entire county went from the On-Site and Distance Learning model to the Transition model, in the statewide metrics that were released on Oct. 30. In the Transition model, schools are asked to come up with plans to switch to distance learning.

Once there are more than 200 cases per 100,000 people or the test positivity is above 10% schools throughout the county will need to make the switch to distance learning.

Per state guidelines, Roseburg Public Schools would have been able to reopen as schools have two weeks from the time they meet the data to reopen. Douglas County met the state guidelines for at least the previous four weeks.

“We have been eagerly anticipating a return for all of our students, but the state metrics and the local upward trend in cases means that we must hold off,” Cordon wrote. “We will continue to do everything possible to support our students and families through the challenges and opportunities that this school year presents while maintaining our focus on safety.”

Cordon shared the plan for Roseburg Public Schools moving forward:

  • Continue K-3 in-person learning at all elementary schools, while continuing to offer a remote option.
  • Delay the return of fourth- and fifth-grade students until there is a decrease in cases, with a target date of Dec. 7.
  • Continue remote learning for middle and high schools through at least the end of the first semester, Jan. 22.

The date for middle and high school was determined to provide consistency and predictability for staff and the community.

Limited in-person instruction will begin at schools, as allowed under state guidance, per the press release. It was not immediately clear when this instruction would start or what would be included.

Per the state guidelines, schools can offer in-person instruction to specific groups of students to meet their needs, such as students with a disability, English language learners and career technical education.

This is the second time the start date for in-person learning has been pushed back for students at Roseburg Public Schools. Students in grades 4-12 were originally scheduled to return to on campus learning on Nov. 2, but that was delayed when the county did not meet the state guidance at the time for reopening.

Since Nov. 1, there have been four adults linked to Roseburg Public Schools who tested positive for COVID-19, which led to 10 classrooms in the district being asked to quarantine for a 14-day period.

Douglas County has met the state guidance for reopening several times this school year, and most schools are offering on-site learning to their students.

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

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