As of Thursday, April 23, schools cannot offer K-12 in-person learning until after June 30, unless Gov. Kate Brown rescinds her order. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will have the final say on when schools can start holding regular classes again.
Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen, the Sherwood School Board chair, said last week that the state would consider slowly reopening once there is a sustained decrease in COVID-19 cases and the state has testing and containment resources in place.
“It certainly could be that some kind of summer school or other educational opportunity is a piece of that,” he said.
Brown took a small step Thursday, announcing she would be allowing medical providers to resume nonurgent procedures.
Brown announced on April 8 that there would be no more traditional classes this school year, but an executive order was required to legally extend the school closure past the previously ordered April 28.
Executive order 20-20 restates that schools will continue to receive their State School Fund allotments as long as they meet certain conditions, including providing meals and education services. The order says districts can use transportation grant funds to deliver food and educational materials.
The order still says schools must pay all regular employees, but it has added “subject to budget and personnel decisions.” Schools are bracing for bad economic news when the Legislature receives its quarterly economic report May 20. The order allows districts to reassign staff based on school needs and employee health considerations.
The order closes school facilities with exceptions for activities such as providing meals or producing distance learning. It also adds an exception for “limited in-person instruction and small group instruction, where necessary and appropriate, to fulfill educational requirements for students, for extended learning or summer learning opportunities, and for other purposes, consistent with guidance provided by ODE and OHA.”
ODE is expected to provide further guidance on how and when schools might do some in-person instruction, likely as Oregon starts to reopen, said OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel. OSBA has been working closely with state leaders on school closure rules.
Lake Oswego’s school board chair, Sen. Rob Wagner, said he is proud of how Oregonians have let science and public health officials guide the closures.
Wagner remains concerned about education access for students.
“If you are looking at equity decisions, you’re looking at the kid who needs the most help,” he said. “Sometimes that’s the kid who doesn’t have technology, who has a parent who has to work.”