Superintendent Mendoza Issues Statement on New Standards to Allow More Oregon Schools to Reopen

Superintendent George Mendoza issues public statement to La Grande School District staff, families and community regarding new COVID-19 standards to allow more Oregon schools to reopen:

 The goal of this communication is to give timely communication to our staff and community as it relates to information received from Oregon Department of Education, Oregon Health Authority and Governor Kate Brown on October 30, 2020.

 Key changes to the metrics include:

  • Increased access to in-person instruction at the elementary level (statewide exceptions now expanded from K-3 to K-6)
  • A two week “look back” at the metrics data rather than one week at a time over a three-week period.
  • Local context and state oversight now moving more towards local decision making
  • Removes state positivity rate in favor of county positivity rates
  • Limited in-person Instruction cohort size expands cohort size to 20
  • Removed the requirement of the state positivity rate staying below 5% to allow for K-12 in-person learning; The county positivity rate must still be below 5% in order to bring back all students in K-12
  • Now allows for an absolute case count of less than 30 cases over a 2 week period for counties less than 30,000 in order to return all K-12 students; Union County falls in this metric

 For ODE press release go to:  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORED/bulletins/2a8cb74

LGSD and Union County officials were recently granted the opportunity to collaborate with statewide education and health leaders and thoughtful adjustments to metrics were made. Superintendent George Mendoza indicated, “With the metric adjustments our goal of allowing more opportunities to have students return to our schools is now close to being realized.  The perspectives of our region’s parents, students, teachers, and staff members were heard and understood.” 

Biggest impacts to LGSD:

  • Removed the requirement of the state positivity rate staying below 5% to allow for K-12 in-person learning; The county positivity rate must still be below 5% in order to bring back all students in K-12
  • Now allows for an absolute case count of less than 30 cases over a 2 week period for counties less than 30,000 in order to return all K-12 students; Union County falls in this metric

 Current statistics for Union County:

  • Union County has had less than 30 cases over a 2-week period.
  • Due to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in our community, Union County is well above the “below 5%” positivity rate required to start all K-12 operations.  “This means we will need to remain with current operations for at least the next 2-3 weeks and continue watching our county COVID-19 positive rates,” stated Mendoza.  “LGSD will make an official announcement on a potential reopening date after taking input from numerous stakeholders such as our Ready Schools, Safe Learners planning teams, administration, staff, families, and students.” 

  

A look at the LGSD 2020-21 school year to date:

  • The La Grande School District has focused on creating and implementing a Comprehensive Distance Learning model.
  • LGSD has had students in their schools since August 31, both in childcare and limited in-person instruction. 
  • On September 5, LGSD opened its doors to K-3. 
  • LGSD has also been supportive of middle school and high school student athletes completing skill development as well as allowing sports clubs to use district facilities.

 

“LGSD has done a fine job of learning, growing and implementing Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidelines as well as all key practices to make sure we stay safe so we can stay open,” explained Superintendent George Mendoza.

The Center for Human Development (CHD), Union County Emergency Management, Union County Commissioners and Grande Ronde Hospital have been working together to support the district’s efforts to keep schools open to continue providing in-person instruction with all of the existing safety measures in place.

The district's safety measures include wearing masks, social distancing, and consistently sanitizing classrooms and buildings. CHD and the La Grande School District reminds families to keep their children home if they have a fever or are not feeling well and Superintendent Mendoza encourages the community to, “do its part to open local schools by wearing face coverings and social distancing so students can return to school.”

“Our full intention is to bring back all students by late November or early December, as long as it is safe,” stated Mendoza.  “We will be working with Union County officials to determine when that will be. We need to remember what kids are missing when they are not at school.  In-person instruction provides our children and families with more than access to an equitable education.  Schools are a center of services to students and families, offering nutritious meals, access to social-emotion and mental health supports, as well as physical health services.”