All public schools in Oregon will now have to reopen or at least provide a hybrid option for students after Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order on Friday.
“The science and data are clear: schools can return to in-person instruction with a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Brown said in the order.
As the Washington Examiner reports, Brown said temporary restrictions that she signed last year, which initially forced students to learn in a virtual setting, are lifted and that it is safe for schools to return students to the classroom.
“Comprehensive distance learning was a tool deployed to manage a crisis in a year no one could have imagined. This emergency tool was never intended to be a permanent, or preferred, solution for educating the vast majority of Oregon’s children,” the governor said.
She also praised educators and school administers for their efforts in keeping students safe this past year.
“Because of this progress and the great work done by Oregon’s schools, parents, students, administrators, teachers, and staff, the time has come for our students to return to the learning environment we know serves them best: in-person instruction.”
Brown said she would be staggering the students’ arrival by their age, to ensure the youngest students return first.
“I am using this phased approach because, as we have seen from school districts that have returned to in-person instruction successfully, schools will return our youngest learners to school first, and apply the lessons learned from that implementation process to reopening middle and high school buildings.”
The governor said she is looking forward to doing what she can to “make up for the losses of 2020”:
Under this order, I’m so proud to say that by March 29 and April 19, kids all across Oregon will see the inside of their classrooms once again. Whether or not public schools should return kids to the classroom this spring is no longer up for discussion: the science and data is clear, schools can return to in-person instruction with a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with a vaccinated workforce.
As conditions across the state merit a return to in-person instruction, I could not be more relieved that we have reached a point in this pandemic when Oregon’s children can finally relinquish some of the immense burdens they have so bravely borne over this past year. I feel so much hope for Oregon’s kids, their parents and their schools, as we continue to navigate this pandemic.
My gratitude goes out to OHA and ODE and every district, administrator, teacher, staff member, and parent for their work this past year. Our kids are our future and we need to do everything we can to make up for the losses of 2020.