PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As COVID-19 numbers continue climbing in Oregon, an increasing number of people are calling on schools to keep their doors shut in the fall unless certain requirements are met.
The group Oregon for a Safe Return to Campus wants the Oregon Health Authority or Gov. Kate Brown to set certain requirements for districts to meet in order to reopen classrooms, such as requiring a county to go at least 14 days without a new case of COVID-19.
Brown said last week, “Many, if not most Oregon students” will have online distance learning or a hybrid of in-person and online classes.
“Whether or not kids are in school buildings this fall, we must provide the very best possible education for every single Oregon student, while ensuring that the school experience is as safe as possible for everyone: students, educators, support staff, parents, and the community at large,” the governor said in a statement.
Oregon for a Safe Return to Campus — which has more than 10,000 members (including teachers, staff and parents) — recognizes the need for kids to be back in school but believes the health risk is too great for students, their families and teaching staff.
“Mental health is harmed by having students staying home,” acknowledged Portland math teacher Ian Maurer. “But I counter with imagine how traumatic going back to school and then having it shut down again because of transmission or to have your peer get sick and bring it to their family or have a teacher who you love pass away.”
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children with COVID-19 generally experience mild symptoms, the greater concern is the risk of spreading the disease to adults who could fall seriously ill or even die.
Members of Oregon for a Safe Return to Campus are planning several rallies, including one at the state capitol on Monday where members hope to meet with Brown and state health and education directors.