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Roseburg High School will remain closed Jan. 25, while elementary school students will be able to return to on-site learning, Roseburg Public Schools announced Tuesday evening.

Middle and high school students in Roseburg Public Schools will not be returning to school Monday, the district announced Tuesday evening after new state guidelines were announced.

The state guidelines reflected an earlier message from Gov. Kate Brown to make the health metrics advisory instead of mandatory and made those guidelines less strict thus making it easier for schools to reopen.

The new guidelines advise schools in areas with more than 350 cases per 100,000 people in a two-week period to remain closed.

Douglas County had 211.1 cases per 100,000 people in the last two-week period, according to data from the Oregon Health Authority.

“Unfortunately, local case rates have risen too high to reopen to secondary students as planned on January 25,” a press release from the district read. “Case rates must be below 200 per 100,000 people in order to begin the return of secondary students to in-person/hybrid learning. Our plan moving forward will be to begin in-person hybrid learning for grades 6-12 as soon as we meet the metrics threshold for secondary students.”

Preschool through fifth graders will start on-site learning on Jan. 25. The school district will bring students back the Monday after the county has less than 200 cases per 100,000 people, according to the press release.

These guidelines are advisory, not mandatory, according to the Oregon Department of Education. It is up to local school districts whether they want to reopen or not. All other school districts in Douglas County are open to on-site learning.

Roseburg Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cordon explained Wednesday that the district will continue to follow the metrics, whether advisory or mandatory, in the interest of student safety, staff safety and community safety. Cordon said the district hopes to be a responsible community organization and will follow the guidelines set by doctors and epidemiologists at the state and national level.

In an email to parents, Roseburg Public Schools said, “We must protect the district from liability in order to ensure taxpayer dollars remain allocated to serving students and employing staff.”

Legislation was passed in 2020 that would protect school districts from lawsuits made because of COVID-19. However, the insurance provider PACE said districts must follow all the guidelines — including advisory guidance.

Schools that offer in-person instruction must offer access to on-site COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students and staff, as well as those with known exposure to the virus, according to the new state guidelines.

Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer said it would be OK for Roseburg schools to open during his Facebook Live Q&A Tuesday evening, about an hour before the school district made its announcement.

It is unclear if Douglas Public Health Network was part of Tuesday’s decision-making process by Roseburg Public Schools.

Under the advisory metrics from the state education and health departments, a school district in an area with 200 to 350 cases per 100,000 people in a two-week period would fall in the “Elementary On-Site and Hybrid Transition” model, which advises districts to carefully bring elementary students back to campus. Once an area has below 200 cases per 100,000 people over a two-week period, middle and high school students can also safely return to school, according to the advisory metrics.

“Since the beginning of the school year, Roseburg Public Schools has strictly adhered to the state’s mandates and guidance to best protect student and staff health, adjusting our plans as needed,” said Superintendent Jared Cordon in a press release. “We believe that following the path we have set throughout the year to manage these adjustments has been the safest and most responsible option for our district.”

The school board made the decision to reopen at a Jan. 6 school board meeting, but last week board chair Rebecca Larson said the reopening was “kind of pending.”

During the Jan. 6 board meeting, several parents and community members spoke out in favor of reopening the schools. At that time there were 142.5 cases per 100,000 people in Douglas County and a similar Transition instruction model according to the guidelines at that time.

The number of cases has continued to rise in Douglas County since then.

A total of 34 middle school teachers, from both Jo Lane and Fremont middle schools, signed their names to letters to the school board that addressed concerns about returning to school too soon.

“We are not asking for a perfect solution, but a humane one, that recognizes that every human life has the dignity to be preserved, regardless of the inconvenience or perceived short term benefit,” teachers at Jo Lane Middle School wrote.

Both letters asked for vaccinations before reopening the schools, a message echoed by most teachers according to Roseburg Education Association President Camron Pope.

Pope conducted a survey about returning to the classroom on behalf of the teacher’s union and although the comfort levels varied widely, there was an overwhelming plea for vaccines.

“If you’re looking for a trend in the results it’s ‘Get us a vaccine before returning the kids, we would feel much more comfortable,’” Pope said. “Even people who felt extremely comfortable, that was still a comment they made.”

Pope said he hopes teachers in front of children will be prioritized in the vaccination plan, but that those decisions will be made by the Douglas Education Service District.

Pope, who teaches fifth grade at Eastwood Elementary School, said he tries not to get too excited about the reopening, because of the constant changes being made by the district.

“We’ve done this enough times that I’m not guaranteeing anything,” he said. “We now have a better opportunity but until I have students in my room and I am teaching in a classroom, nothing is off the table.”

Dannenhoffer said Tuesday that the hope is to start vaccinating teachers by Jan. 25, but that it will depend on the number of vaccines the county receives.

The school district will continue to offer limited in-person instruction to students in grades 6-12, which it said has “been effective in providing much-needed additional support for students, and we will continue to encourage secondary students to participate.”

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

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(11) comments

Mike

According to the CDC (below link) Oregon has received Oregon has received 431,450 doses, enough to vaccinate over 10% of the entire state. Of those, 238,759 doses (55%) have been administered. Meanwhile, only 2,207 people have been vaccinated in Douglas County. Apparently Douglas County is the only Oregon county with a supply issue.

https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations

OregonHusker

This is all about teachers being babysitters.

Mike

Douglas County is the WORST County in Oregon for vaccinating its residents. Douglas County has vaccinated only 2.2% of its residents which is the lowest in Oregon. No other County in Oregon has vaccinated a lower percentage of its residents than Douglas County. Below is the percentage of residents vaccinated in each of the 6 counties surrounding Douglas County.

Coos County ----------4.41%

Klamath County ------3.95%

Lane County ----------3.76%

Jackson County ------3.50%

Curry County ---------3.48%

Josephine County ---2.34%

Douglas County ------2.24%

All of this information is provided by the Oregon Health Authority on their vaccine dashboard. Unfortunately, the News-Review spam filter will not let me publish the link. However, you can get to it by going to the below link and scrolling down one half page and click on “Vaccination Trends.” Compare how POORLY Douglas County is doing compared to the other counties around it.

Mike

Douglas County Public Health Officer Bob Dannenhoffer claims it would be OK for Roseburg schools to open again even though the Oregon Health Authority is currently deciding whether to AGAIN shut down Douglas County bars and in-dining restaurants. Does that even make sense?

The state medical experts think its unsafe to keep bars and restaurants open in Douglas County, but our County Medical Officer says its OK for children and teachers to risk exposure.

Mike

Warning week coronavirus numbers suggest Douglas County may be moving back to the Extreme Risk category, meaning bars, in-dining restaurants and gyms will have to close again. At Douglas County’s current pace of infection, it will return to the Extreme category on January 29 unless the situation improves, according to the Oregon Health Authority.

https://kval.com/news/local/warning-week-numbers-suggest-coos-not-improving-douglas-moving-to-extreme-risk

Mike

25 new coronavirus cases were reported in today’s press release from the County Commissioners Coronavirus Task Force. This brings Douglas County totals to 1,723 cases and 43 deaths.

The Commissioners Response Team reported 237 coronavirus cases over the past two weeks which calculates to a 14-day case rate of 211.1 today for Douglas County, which is Greater than the maximum case rate of 200 required for in-dining restaurants, bars, theaters and health clubs to reopen. Today is the 10th day in a row Douglas County’s 14-day case rate has been 200 or greater.

Mike

The Commissioners Response Team reported 237 coronavirus cases and the OHA reported Douglas County received 3,555 test results over the past two weeks. Dividing 237 cases by 3,555 test results gives Douglas County a 14-day positive test rate of 6.7% today.

The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 155 new coronavirus cases today and 7 deaths today. The six counties surrounding Douglas County reported 1,281 cases and 30 deaths over the past week.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 674 new coronavirus cases and 24 deaths today in Oregon. Oregon’s 7-day positive test rate is 4.7% 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 15 ICU beds and 125 non-ICU beds available in Region 3 today. 31 coronavirus cases are hospitalized in Region 3 today. 13 are in ICU. There were 90 new coronavirus cases reported in Region 3 today.

Mike

Douglas County is STILL the WORST County in Oregon for vaccinating its residents. Douglas County has vaccinated a mere 2.2% of its residents which is the lowest in Oregon. No other County in Oregon has vaccinated a lower percentage of its residents than Douglas County.

A mere 37 people were vaccinated in Douglas County yesterday. Almost every one of them received their second dose after previously being vaccinated with their first dose. A total of 2,187 people have been vaccinated since Douglas County received its first 1,595 doses 34 days ago on December 16.

Oregon has received 339,950 doses of vaccine according to the CDC (below link). That is enough to vaccinate over 8% of Oregon residents. Yet, Oregon has administered 225,065 doses to 197,458 people. 114,855 unused doses remain in Oregon. At Oregon’s target vaccination rate of 12,000 doses per day, Oregon has over 11 days of vaccine inventory before it runs out, contrary to what our County Commissioners claim.

Below is the percentage of residents vaccinated in each of the 6 counties surrounding Douglas County.

Coos County ----------4.29%

Lane County ----------3.58%

Klamath County ------3.62%

Jackson County ------3.34%

Curry County ---------3.27%

Josephine County ---2.20%

Douglas County ------2.17%

All of this information is provided by the Oregon Health Authority on their vaccine dashboard. Unfortunately, the News-Review spam filter will not let me publish the link. However, you can get to it by going to the below link and scrolling down one half page and click on “Vaccination Trends.” Compare how POORLY Douglas County is doing compared to the other counties around it.

https://govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19

Mike

Only 12 states (including Oregon) follow CDC vaccination guidelines on the order or priority.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/who-gets-the-covid-19-vaccination-first-only-12-states-follow-cdc-guidelines-on-the-order-or-priority/ar-BB1cGa57

Mike

Deep in remote Amazon, indigenous villagers receive coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile, Douglas County is still waiting.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/deep-in-remote-amazon-indigenous-villagers-receive-coronavirus-vaccine/ar-BB1cU1nO

Be good

It seems that the author has a bias against the safety of our community. Even Europe who has had relatively few cases is shutting down their schools as they lead to community spread and more cases. This was a difficult but wise choice made by our school leaders.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/europes-schools-are-closing-again-on-concerns-they-spread-covid-19-11610805601

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