Cohort size will be key to keeping schools open, Gill says
Friday, August 14, 2020
Effectively limiting cohorts will be one of the keys to getting schools open again and keeping them open, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said Thursday night.
Cohorts, including staff, stop the spread of the disease and help contain outbreaks. Schools that follow the cohort rules will not have to close just because they have a COVID-19 case, Gill said.
“Reduce the cohort sizes – this will keep your schools open,” Gill said. “Do everything you can to operate in smaller groups, even if it is minimizing the amount of time.”
The OSBA hourlong webinar “Reopening plans: The school board’s role” gave school board members a chance to ask the ODE director questions. OSBA Executive Director Jim Green with Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel moderated.
Gill started off by urging grace and patience for the state’s superintendents as they struggle to create education models during a pandemic.
Gill went over some of the in-person instructions rules in the “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidance. Gill said the primary reason for schools to follow ODE’s extensive guidance is so that students, staff and community members don’t get sick, but he said there could also be complaint and liability consequences for schools out of compliance.
Green said OSBA is working on getting some liability protection for schools but schools that don’t follow ODE’s rules could face significant financial consequences.
“Please do all you can to comply with the guidance,” Green said.
The guidance was updated Aug. 11. Gill does not expect another major update to the guidance unless there is a big increase or decrease in COVID-19 cases, calling for changes in the restrictions.