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Crook County’s K-3 students will return to class this fall, if COVID-19 metrics hold

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Crook County School District

For others, it's online; district also to offer new program for home-schoolers

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Planning for the reopening of schools in Oregon is a moving target, with new restrictions announced this week by Gov. Kate Brown. Since active cases of Covid-19 in Crook County exceed the new limits, most Crook County School District students will learn online until case rates decline and trend downward over time, officials said Friday.

“We’re obviously disappointed, because we know that students learn better interacting in-person with teachers and classmates,” said Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson. “We planned for a normal reopening September 8th, but these new health metrics from Salem have put a pause on that.”

The new metrics require that each county in Oregon have 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 people and an active case rate of less than 5% of the total population for three straight weeks before students can return to classrooms. And there can be no active outbreaks. As of Friday, July 31st, Crook County has 28.7 cases per 100,000 and an active case rate of 2.8%. This means most students will learn from home.

The Governor’s Office has made an exception for younger students in kindergarten through 3rd grade. If cases are below 30 per 100,000 and less than 5% of the total population with no active outbreaks, then K-3 students are allowed in the classrooms.

As of now, Crook County meets that metric, with a case rate of 28.7 per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 2.8%. Dr. Johnson says the plan is to move forward with K-3 students returning to buildings, but the district will closely monitor case numbers throughout August. 

“We’d love to have our little ones in the classroom, because in-person instruction is critical for future success at that age, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed case numbers trend down over the next few weeks,” said Dr. Johnson.

The school district also said it is retooling its distance learning options, based on parent feedback from last spring.

Every day, teachers will provide interactive virtual instruction with both hands-on and digital curriculum. Workbooks will also be included and the district plans to invest in training and support for teachers so students receive a more robust experience at home.

Crook County High School will continue to offer its regular menu of online and hybrid options.

In addition, CCSD is launching a new option called the Home-School Partner Program for K-8 students.

Families who choose this option will educate their children from home while receiving resources, coordination and support from teachers and the school district. This includes the opportunity for home-schooled students to take electives and other classes, based on parent choice.

Former CCHS science teacher Jonny Oelkers will be the new K-8 Home-School Coordinator and serve as the district’s advocate for families who choose that option. Mr. Oelkers has experience in the classroom and currently home-schools his own children, so he brings a unique perspective to the program.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to build long-term and meaningful connections between the school district and homeschool families,” Oelkers said. “The advantage of this program over other online options is the support we can provide families by creating a more personalized experience.”

The school district said it "is committed to making sure all students are back in the classroom as soon as Crook County’s health metrics allow." There will be a monthly review of the data and the district has set potential dates through the end of the year for a possible return to school for older students.

Review Virus Data                                                        Potential School Reopening

August 15th                                                                     September 8th    (K-3 Only)

September 15th                                                             October 5th         (All Students)

October 15th                                                                   November 2nd    (All Students)

November 15th                                                              December 1st     (All Students)                                   

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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