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Oregon GOP lawmakers urge Gov. Brown to reopen all schools now; unions differ

Crook County students returned to class, wearing masks, in September 2020
KTVZ file
Crook County students returned to class, wearing masks, in September 2020

(Update: Teachers unions say spring timeline is working well)

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – Oregon’s Republican state lawmakers sent a joint letter Thursday to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, urging her to use her executive powers to “take decisive action and reopen all Oregon schools for full in-person instruction immediately.”

But the state's teachers unions took a different stand in a joint statement Friday.

State Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, and Reps. Vikki Breese Iverson, R-Prineville, and Jack Zika, R-Bend, were among the 32 GOP legislators who signed the letter, saying they “are deeply concerned about the detrimental impacts school closures are having on Oregon students.”

While the state has loosened restrictions and allowed many schools to reopen, with COVID-19 guidelines, the legislators said all need to return due to “the academic, social and emotional consequences” of not having been in a classroom for nearly a year.

They noted issues such as a survey that found over half of 11- to 17-year-olds reported having suicidal thoughts regularly, and that more than 3 million women have dropped out of the workforce.

The lawmakers said a recent $499 million federal allocation to the state should be sufficient to reopen schools, “especially when an ever-increasing body of evidence supports that it is safe – even without the vaccination of teachers.”

Here's a joint statement issued by the Oregon Education Association and individual district associations on Friday:

Joint Statement: OEA and Local Education Associations Support Spring Timeline for Expanding In-Person Instruction

From the beginning of this pandemic, Oregon educators have made it clear that they support getting students back into the classroom once it can be done safely. To that end, educators throughout the state have worked tirelessly with local school districts to create in-person instruction plans that will meet the unique needs of their communities while keeping students, families and educators safe.

In fact, many schools have already resumed in person instruction and many school districts have already reached, or are very close to reaching, agreements that will bring additional students back to physical classrooms by late March or early April.

We hear, understand, and share the frustration expressed by many in our communities about the uncertainty this pandemic has caused for our public education system, and the long-standing educational disparities that continue to be exacerbated by reopening plans that fail to truly center student equity. We urge our local school districts to continue to work in good faith with local educators to craft plans that will truly serve all of our students, and we are committed to expanding in-person instruction at our schools this spring.


John Larson, President, Oregon Education Association

Melissa Grothe, President, Astoria Education Association

Toni Myers, President, Baker Education Association

Sara Schmitt, President, Beaverton Education Association

Sarah Barclay,   President, Bend Education Association

Marilyn Bounds, Co-President, Bethel ACE

Maureen Clark, Co-President, Bethel ACE

Jenn Legat, President, Brookings-Harbor Education Association

Stefanie Agar, President, Canby Education Association

Alicia Brown, President, Centennial Education Association

Benjamin Gorman, President, Central Education Association

Deborah Branson, President, Central Linn Education Association

Mauree Donahue Revier, President, Columbia Gorge ESD Education Association

Becky Crane, President, Coos Bay Education Association

Peg Cornell, President, Corvallis Education Association

Charlotte Riester, President, Dallas Education Association

Julie Talley, President, David Douglas Education Association

Amanda O'Sullivan, President, Eagle Point Education Association

Heather Treanor, President, Estacada Education Association

Sabrina Gordon, President, Eugene Education Association

Serena  Fitz, Co-President, Forest Grove Education Association

Sara Ogle, Co-President, Forest Grove Education Association

Kevin Zerzan, Co-President, Gladstone Teacher’s Association

Kris Schuberg, Co-President, Gladstone Teacher’s Association

Helen Jacobs, President, Greater Albany ACE

Lindsay Jansen-Hostetler, President, Greater Albany Education Association

Laurel Woodward, President, Hermiston Association of Teachers

Jill Golay, President, Hillsboro Education Association

Kate Gillow-Wiles, President, Junction City Education Association

Mark Nevala, President, Klamath County Education Association

Bonita Randklev, President, Lebanon Education Association

Dalton  Sheets, President, La Grande Education Association

Peter Lohonyay, President, Lincoln County Education Association

Adam Gray, President, McMinnville Education Association

Christina Geierman, President, North Bend Education Association

Brenda  Roland, President, Oregon City Education Association

Zach Melzer, President, Parkrose Faculty Association

Elizabeth Thiel, President, Portland Association of Teachers

Adam Mclain, President, Riverdale Teachers Association

Mindy Merritt, President, Salem Keizer Education Association

Charles Albright, President, Seaside Education Association

Kyler Pace, Co-President, Sherwood Education Association

Nanci Stauffer, Co-President, Sherwood Education Association

Michelle Stadeli, President, Silver Falls Education Association

Cindi Ramsey, President, Siuslaw Education Association

Dawn Stetina-Ferren, Co-President, South Lane Education Association

Jonathan Gault, President, Springfield Education Association

Keith Meeuwsen, President, St. Helens Education Association

Elizabeth Hunt, President, Sweet Home Education Association

Taunya Daniel, President, Umatilla Education Association

Juliet Safier, President, Veronia Education Association

Jennifer Cerasin, President, West-Linn Wilsonville Education Association

Kathy Kuftin, President, Woodburn Education Association

Grants Pass Education Association Executive Committee

Tigard Tualatin Education Association Executive Committee

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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