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Central Oregon

Crook County schools welcome back K-3 students for in-person classes

(Update: Adding video, comments by school principal, district superintendent)

District hopes to bring back all students in three weeks.

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Taylor Trautman's first day as principal of Barnes Butte Elementary in Prineville was probably different than she envisioned.

"I think I'd call it an opportunity," she told NewsChannel 21 Tuesday.

Not only was it her first day -- Tuesday was the first day of in-person classes for kindergarten through third grade students in the district -- the first public school district to return to the classroom in Central Oregon since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

"One of our main priorities is always going to be safety,” Trautman said. “Every day, parents and families trust their students with us, and we take that job very, very seriously."

Numerous now-familiar changes were made, with safety in mind; Temperature checks at the door, mandatory masking, grab-and-go cafeteria meals.

Things like recess are now split up into zones, and they rotate every three weeks. Children will remain in their designated zones with their designated groups, to make contract tracing easier.

Each zone also has its own balls, the school purchased more than 200 new ones.

Dr. Sara Johnson, the district superintendent said they spent more than $300,000 on supplies.

Several other Oregon school districts that met the state's COVID-19 metrics chose not to open just yet, but Dr. Johnson said it's what parents wanted.

"We don't always like to be, as we call it, the tip of the spear,” she said. “But we felt on this, that we're providing the correct option for the families."

Tuesday was an important first step.

Trautman said, "We want to continue with our safety measures and our health protocols, so that we can have all students return to all buildings, because we know that's our No. 1 goal.”

The district said it's taking a week-by-week approach to bringing back all of its students.

Coronavirus / Crook County / Education / News / Top Stories
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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.



  1. “The tip of the spear”- the bullet in the gun- the bite in the bark… call it what you want- but once again- the citizens of Prineville allow their actions to speak louder than their words.

    Every other county- school district- school board in the state should be ashamed as they continue to follow along Kate Brown’s failed attempts at leadership !

    Parents need to take their children’s future to the streets… because

    “Children’s Education Matters” !

      1. What experiment ? Other states have already opened their schools, Disneyworld is open (gee- what would Walt think ?) The CDC has made numerous statements about the detriment to children’s mental health while being “caged up like animals all year”… and I guess you didn’t see the new advert from Bend’s “Mathnasium” educational centers- claiming that the Covid slide is putting Oregon’s students at least a year behind.

        Seems the only experiment going on here in Oregon- is how long the citizens will continue to tow the line under Brown’s misguided and failed leadership.

        The townsfolk of Prineville have met all of Brown’s constantly changing criteria- time to get back to business as usual- and that starts with school.

          1. The Central Oregon data shows that you have a much greater chance of being involved in a fatal auto accident than dying from covid/corona/wuhan… so do you want ‘everyone” to stop driving ?

            Go ahead “oh-selfish” one… lecture the rest of us on “who cares” !

            1. Accidents don’t increase exponentially in CO, COVID-19 does. 4 car accidents don’t cause other 256 car accidents, 4 COVID-19 infected individuals can infect 256 others.

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