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Bend-La Pine parents, staff plant flags for COVID victims, want reopening delayed

(Update: Adding video, comments by protest participants, district response)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Last week, Bend-La Pine Schools announced detailed plans to bring kindergarten through third-grade students back to in-person learning on Jan. 25, with fourth- and fifth-graders soon after and middle and high schoolers to follow.

Some parents, school staff and health providers critical of the reopening planted hundreds of flags at the school district's downtown office at an event late Monday afternoon, representing the over 100 students who have died of COVID-19 nationwide, as well as the over 300 school personnel. 

They are calling on the district to do two things: First, they officials to wait to reopen school for in-person learning until all staff members who want to be vaccinated have the option to do so.

One of the event's organizers, Silver Rail Elementary teacher Emily Gibson, said, "We need to be able to support them, without forcing our families and students and staff that are at risk into a situation that does not feel safe.”

"You'll notice that I'm wearing a mask in my own home right now," Gibson added during the Zoom interview. "And that's because I was exposed to the virus last week, while we were doing limited in-person instruction. It's when we have a small group of kids who really need support and were all together in school."

The group said in a statement, "We are so close to this, just a few more weeks. Governor Brown has moved teachers up in priority to receive the vaccine, to help accelerate the return to in-person learning."

The group continued, "But with the slower than expected roll out of the vaccine in Oregon, it could be a while before teachers are vaccinated, as health care workers and nursing home residents rightly have priority."

Secondly, they want the school district to keep the full "comprehensive distance learning" online option in place, along with in-person learning, so those teachers and students who can’t or don't wish to return to schools can continue online. They said the less-extensive "Bend-La Pine Online" option is not enough to keep students engaged and learning as they should.

"The district and staff have invested a great deal of time and resources into making CDL a powerful alternative to in-person instruction." the group stated. "Additionally, being able to continue teaching CDL would allow staff who are unable to teach in-person another choice beyond taking a Leave of Absence or resigning."

Bend-La Pine teachers and staff are not alone in voicing concerns about schools reopening too quickly. The leaders of teachers'' unions in five large Oregon school districts said in a joint statement last week they want a vaccine or health indicators to support reopening before they return.

"We want desperately to be back in physical classrooms with our students -- as soon as we can do so safely, without needlessly risking the lives and health of students, educators or members of our community," they wrote.

The Lake Oswego Education Association is also sharply critical of the move, issuing a statement Monday headlined, "Lake Oswego teachers don't want to die or kill their families," OPB reported.

"Over 500 children and school personnel have died from Covid-19 during this pandemic. Let us hope that the Bend La Pine community sees zero student or staff deaths.  Let us keep safe so we can all meet up on the other side of this with no one missing."

Bend Senior High student Jade Jager, who attended Monday's event, said she fears returning to soon.

"’I'd be generally terrified," she said. "I have a brother with some auto-immune diseases -- not to mention, it’s a pandemic.”

Jager said she wants to see either cases decline or teachers get vaccinated before the schools reopen.

“It is just asking to spread the virus and asking to blow up," she said. "It is just going to detriment the population in Oregon and hurt so many people.”

The school district announced late Monday that more than 400 staff members will be invited this week to get the COVID-19 vaccine, while others must wait until at least next month, when further priorities are determined by a state advisory committee, and more vaccines are available.

They also said a comprehensive distance learning option will be provided, though more details weren't immediately available.

Public Comments:

“I would like our district to offer three choices: In-person, CDL and BLPO. I am advocating for this because it’s the best thing we can do to serve all our families and to keep our community safe. I also must advocate for our educators. Some are eager to return to our buildings, and they should be allowed to do so. However, educators who do not feel comfortable should have the choice to remain in CDL with the families who feel the same.” Amy Tatum, Family Nurse Practitioner in Bend and Bend La Pine School Board member (Link to full statement here:  )

“Currently, in CDL my child interacts with her teacher five days a week for one to three hours on any given day. During non-direct/live time her teacher has lesson plans, videos, podcasts that keep the kids engaged and actively learning.  While of course this isn’t “ideal” it is far better than sending them into unsafe situations of in-person. My child is able to see her teacher, ask questions, feel connected; she is able to see her peers and engage in collaborative learning. CDL is currently the BEST way to keep our kids, teachers and community safe.  Going to in-person learning at this time is irresponsible and a reprehensible decision.”—Monica Vines, Bend La Pine Schools Parent and Bend resident

“The exposure is just too great.  I think each and every teacher in this district without exception, and that includes classified staff, should not be forced to return to a situation they feel is a risk to their well being.  They should be afforded the same opportunity as the students to not return and to continue to teach remotely.  The loud demands of some community members should not be allowed to put the welfare and health of others at risk.”   Louise, Bend resident, parent of a Bend La Pine teacher, grandparent of Bend La Pine students

“By telling our students and families who are not planning to return to in-person instruction at this time that they have to leave their home school, leave their school community, their classmates, and the teachers and staff who have sustained them through this very difficult time… this goes against everything we know about what students and families need right now: stability, belonging, connection.  Our students are not falling behind, they are surviving a pandemic.  Continuing CDL will help those who need it to not only survive, but thrive.”    –Emily Gibson, Bend La Pine teacher and Bend resident

“At a point when we are having state-wide, continuous spread, opening schools for in-person instruction can only be described as sociocidal.” --Jay Girard, RN, Bend resident

"I can't speak for the High School's plans, but I've learned that Middle Schoolers will be getting HALF as much direct schooling in hybrid than they have with CDL.  Are two In-Person days that expose our kids and families to unnecessary danger, really so superior to 4 WebEx days of classes?"  --Athey Moravetz, Bend resident

“Quite simply, it is not right to REQUIRE that ALL high school students must completely disrupt the routines and schedules they’ve worked so hard to get in place, in order to either switch to BLPO, or to be subjected to the risks of hybrid/in-person learning, to accomplish less than 7.5 hours per week of actual instructional time in the school building – in the weeks that aren’t disrupted by infections and exposures. Surely, the District can figure out a way to continue Comprehensive Distance Learning as an option for the remainder of this school year, and avoid the myriad negative effects that a significant number of the students in this district would otherwise be subjected to.”  --Eric and Melissa Smith, Parents of a Bend La Pine high school student and Bend residents

Bend / Central Oregon / Education / Government-politics / News / Top Stories
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.



  1. If teachers don’t want to work, FIRE THEM, all of them. When they lose their paychecks, insurance, and retirement, they will rethink this. Total BS!

    1. Ignorance is a strength of yours. I would love to see those who make such black and white statements work in the schools, with the teachers. Then perhaps any judgement that is passed could stem from actual knowledge and experience.

  2. Let’s just have the community step up for the teachers that opted out. Much like Crook County has done. And if you feel it’s unsafe to have your child attend, stick with remote learning.

      1. They are doing their jobs, remotely. Matter of fact, they are doing a job with changing rules, parameters and requirements. Changes in software, tools etc make it challenging. Are teachers in the FIRST group to get the vaccine?

      1. “try to do better” ? HOW ??? By refusing to let your reporters go out and ask the real hard questions of Central Oregonians and Governor Brown ? You’ve not asked a single business in CO about their feelings towards the Governors lock-down orders ! All you do is report their “hardship” ! Schools ? No different ! You could have asked every teacher at Bend LaPine to comment on the months of back to school by Crook County teachers… but you didn’t ! You are not ‘trying to do better”- you are playing by Governor Kate Brown’s rules because you are part of the liberal mob- hating on conservative views with 97% negative coverage of the US President for four years and counting. Your time with President Trump is about up- you need a new shtick- whats it gonna be- “Hunter who” ??? Such shameful behavior ! You’ve sealed yer own fate- Central Oregonians have lost trust in your coverage- and that’s on you !

        1. You are as full of untruths as always. We are doing just fine, despite you. (or to spite you?) You have no shame, and that’s evident every day in every way. Please waste less of my time or you might see your favorite platform for hate and ridicule go away.

          1. Nobody asked you to respond to me- you can ignore my comments like you claim so many others do. As for untruths- the fact that you have allowed the poster known as anonymousktvz to attribute vocabulary made by him- and credited to me- is extremely deceitful- and you should acknowledge your blatant participation in this attempt to harass and bully me through such an outrageous act ! Such a new low- even for you !

            1. Hopefully most folks will see that we’re talking about the words used, not the spot on the political spectrum. Can you really say we haven’t had lots of opposing views allowed here? The vast majority make it online. Catchy words or phrases make it even easier to ascribe unprovable and yes, false motives (“cancel culture,” “fake news” etc.) We always have and will err on the side of freedom of speech whenever possible.
              “Social media has evolved into a significant source of news reporting for its users, and support for content moderation and banning of inflammatory posters has been defended as an editorial responsibility required by news outlets.”
              (Yeah I know, how dare I quote Wikipedia, Snopes, etc. – the only “real truth” is the one from your side of the spectrum… not.)

            2. When a user uses a platform with a PRIVATE company, there are rules you agree to. If you violate those rules, the PRIVATE company can stop your use of their platform. Simple. Not a First Amendment right at all. Rules are rules. Follow them or suffer the consequences. Nothing about “silencing”. That is a right wing nut job cry for what? Fundraising? Got my rights mantra? It is laughable to equate the two

              1. I’m all for the private company platform defense. So much so that I’m thinking we should let them become truely private. Let’s drop all the government laws that PROTECT them from being sued over their content. Specifically Sec.230 referring to Facebook and other platforms, “It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. They propagate falsehoods the know to be false”. That quote comes from your savior, Joe Biden. There was good news today,the firing of PBS principle council Beller, who was caught on tape calling for children of Trump supporters to be sent to reeducation camps, calling Americans ******* dumb and celebrating a spike in virus cases and deaths in “Red States”.

          1. Beliefs are one thing- “actions”- “the Russia-Russia-Russia Hoax- Hillary had no intent decision-97% negative coverage- an Impeachment without a crime-a mild virus shutting down society-allowing posters to attribute violent terms and phrases on the behalf of others”- This site has been guilty of promoting and propagating these “actions”. and you wonder why your stated Civil War could tear us apart. The blame seems to be avoided here by you as much as anyone else- and that reeks of hypocrisy !

          2. Exactly Barney! That’s why I champion the conservative side around here. I am not even a conservative. I am just wanting honest UNBIASED reporting. I don’t feel that you do that. Sorry if that offends you

          3. I don’t mind if you edit comments out of here. It’s your right. If people don’t like it, they can comment elsewhere, like with a sign in their front yard or something.

  3. Its pretty hard to convince people that retuning to school is safe while we have armed terrorists breaking into our capitol building and threatening our governor. I will keep my child home for now.

    1. No one is saying you don’t have that option, but people who want to have their kids back should have it as well. Plenty of teachers are ready and willing. Those that are not have 3 options: stay teaching remotely for the kids that are full time online, take an unpaid leave of absence for the year(their job will be there next year waiting), or quit. Pretty simple really.

    1. Think about it – you spend 15 to 30 minutes in WalMart while kids are in school for 6+ hours. I’d say that schools & classrooms have a much higher risk.

      I say wait until the teachers are vaccinated before opening.

      1. Bull. You come in contact with 100+ people every single time you walk into Walmart. In the current plan kids would come in contact with about 20 all day every day with the same people. Not even close to the same probability of getting infected.

          1. You seem to have no idea what the discussion is about. No matter what you do when you walk into Walmart you will come into contact with way more people then a student will at public school when they open in a hybrid model.

  4. Must be ANTIFA and BLM because white privilege supremacists proud boys respect the while of law and our police officers. Where was Kyle?, he should have been guarding our capitol building and prevented the insurrection.

    1. Now try again, putting your thoughts in a complete sentence. I feel like a online teacher. I should be getting paid their wages. That’s about what they do in a day currently.

  5. If a teacher doesn’t want to go to the classroom, do they have the option of teaching the online portion? Otherwise, if you don’t show up for work you get fired, like all other jobs. Grocery store employees, Walmart, Costco, all of these people have shown up to work without complaining so you can buy a tv. Kids are not getting a education for almost a full year. They changed the grading process so kids CAN’T fail. WTF???

  6. Not really news at all, we’ve all been saying this for 6 months. Who didn’t see this coming don’t? And teachers can’t quite figure out why they generally don’t get much sympathy from the general public. Next time you teachers are on your way home from enlightenment class or union rally take time stop by a real business and tell everyone to run home because the world is so scary. Pathetic bunch of brats.

    1. I think teachers have a great deal of sympathy from the public, First of all they have to deal with parents like you see here. That’s reason enough and proves they are way under paid.

        1. When you look at the time spent not only teaching, but class preparation and grading papers at home, dealing with parents after hours, preparation and attending classes and workshops related to their profession during the summer and holidays, yes they are underpaid. They are also the single person that spends more time with a child than anyone except the parents (and in some cases more waking time than the parents).

          1. they have aides that grade most of the papers
            they have class prep built into their day
            workshops are optional and not on holidays

            They have their summers off to supplement their income if needed OR go back to school to get more accreditation which equals more pay.

            Their wage is above average.

            I am not saying they are not important but so is the bus driver who sees the kids first and last and gets them to and from safely, the lunch person who makes sure they eat healthy, the custodian who keeps the place clean, the campus cop who protects them. The list goes on.

            BTW, the teachers make more money than ALL of the above. They chose their profession. There are good teachers and bad teachers. The cool thing is that if you want to be a better teacher you can go back to school and get paid more to better yourself. Not many careers offer that

  7. How about we also plant flags for all school aged children who have mental health issues now and have taken it to the last degree with suicide. I would wager there would be magnitudes higher of those then school aged kids that have died from Covid.

      1. I wouldn’t lump all teachers into that category. The teachers union would be more accurate and yes they are the ones pulling the strings. Brown kneels to them.

    1. I completely agree with you. Nobody talks about how many young people have committed suicide last year. Teen suicide is the #2 way to die behind accidents. It’s so bad that almost 15% out of 100000 deaths are done by suicide. The CDC came out and acknowledged that the virus and look down in isolation is the Main cause. I know first hand.

      They would be planting a LOT of flags

      Please read this

      1. Right, because when someone makes a written language mistake they must have low iq and or need a better education. How cute and elitist of you instead of attempting to counter the view point.

          1. Hah! Your joking right? You connect elitism with wealth? Oh boy how wrong you are about me and plenty of others, but I guess that just shows the education you went through doesn’t always match the knowledge you actually have. I know plenty of people that can “afford to be elitist” and choose not to. Elitism is not wealth my friend, not even close. Fantastic that your true colors came out finally though. Everyone is a millionaire online.😂😂

            1. In case you’re interested I can also afford to be morally superior to you and have a good laugh at your expense. Regardless of the outcome, that’s what history will do!

              1. Yep. Another human thinking they are superior to another…that has never caused problems in the world we live in. Wow. Congrats, sounds like you are adding to the filth of the world. Don’t worry keyboard warrior, I could care less what you think.😀Cheers!😀

                1. It’s not what I think, son. The whole world believes that you and your kind are the worst kind of morons. Congratulations on going down in history in the same section as “fine folks” , just like the ones standing up behind Stalin and Hitler. Winner!

        1. Oh! IQ is an abbreviation for “intelligence quotient” and as such, should be capitalized. That should also read “and/or”. Thanks once again for showing us all how important a formal education is!

    2. Does anyone know the source/data from this statement? “Over 500 children and school personnel have died from Covid-19 during this pandemic.“ Where is this 500 number coming from? What website? What county were these kids? I’d like to look at the data. I haven’t been able to find it.

  8. Too many parents are just too lazy to care for their kids in these troubling times. These right wingers look for any excuse to harass educators and public education. One day they are socialist indoctrination camps and the next they are absolutely essential for the child. Parents that want to send the kids to school and stay with them to make sure they follow the rules.

    1. Too lazy? Try being there to help your kids while trying to work whenever possible. What about the parents that are too poor to quit their job, so the kids are on their own? Are the left winger parents too lazy? Just trying to follow your narrative, because I pay taxes to support education, have lost work, and have to help my daughter with distance learning.

  9. “It is just going to detriment the population in Oregon and hurt so many people.”

    Ms. Jager unintentionally provides a good example of how our local education system is coming up short dealing with recent challenges. Her assignment for tomorrow should be to look up how to properly use “detriment” in a sentence.

  10. The teachers and the teachers union is the reason we didn’t start school in September. And it’s still the reason. Yes there are some great teachers that are ready to get back. The sad thing is they are a very silent majority. The loud ones are bullying us and making the rules. One voice, one voice, ONE voice! Ok I get it, it’s your voice or we are out of the group. It shouldn’t be this way

  11. Let’s have a magnet school for all those who believe Covid is a hoax, or not sufficiently lethal, or think masks are a loss of civil rights. The alleged adults can teach, those who believe can send their kids there, and we’ll call the school Superspreader Elementary.
    Until teachers are vaccinated, keep the schools closed.

    1. Ok, sign me up. Give me $14,000 for each student I teach for the year, like the school districts get. I will educate all of them. Better me than a bunch of spineless, snowflake wussies who think their health and safety is far more important than the taxpayers who pay them.

  12. Should have never canceled schools at all. Teachers that want to work in person, work in person. Teachers that want to work remotely, work remotely.
    Families that want to have their kids learn remotely, learn remotely.

    The group that has been negativly affected, families that have to have their kids in school so they can work They should be able to send kids to school. For over a year the government has been screwing the poor people, and the teacher unions have been right in step. I’m certain many teachers would do what’s right for the kids, give their families the option.

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