Brown: ‘Risk is low’ for kids to return to schools

Education

Governor is confident schools are safe with COVID protocols in place

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — At Kalapuya Elementary School in Salem, some students are back for LIPI — Limited In-Person Instruction. Though only a small portion of the students are back in the building, they did have an important visitor on Wednesday.

Gov. Kate Brown toured the school and said she’s absolutely confident schools are safe for everyone — as long as COVID-19 protocols are in place and followed.

Oregon’s governor was among the first in the nation to prioritize vaccines for educators over the elderly in an effort to reopen schools and get students back in school.

“If we were to vaccinate every Oregon senior first, the unfortunate and harsh reality is that many of our educators would not be vaccinated this school year and our kids would continue to suffer,” she said on January 22.

At this time, who can go into school buildings is still quite limited. Oregon allows a small portion of students into the building for LIPI, and not for the full day. Students are only allowed 2 consecutive hours on site.

Kalapuya Elementary School in Salem, as seen on their website, February 24, 2021

LIPI is only for students who need support service, potentially struggling academically or with limited internet.

By March 2, kindergarten and 1st-grade students will be introduced to a hybrid system, alternating between online and in-person learning.

The governor also saw how classrooms will be spaced — 6 feet or more between students wherever possible, hand sanitizer stations and required face coverings.

Gov. Kate Brown toured Kalapuya Elementary School in Salem, February 24, 2021 (KOIN)

“We’re also not trying to have exclusionary practices because we want kids in schools,” Brown said. “But we do have online options for families who just say mask wearing is not for them.”

Asked if parents should feel comfortable sending their kids to school, Brown did not hesitate.

“Absolutely,” she said. “The science is really really clear. As long as schools are following protocol, the risk of transmission is low.”

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