Several Oregon schools push back start dates due to COVID-19 surges


(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some schools in the state are officially delaying the start of the school year due to the ongoing pandemic.

Alsea School District, Culver School District and South Umpqua High School are all pushing their return date back after an increase in COVID-19 cases. This surge, largely powered by the delta variant, has resulted in a number of teachers and school staff being exposed and infected.

Down in Alsea, Superintendent Marc Thielman issued a letter to parents on Saturday explaining the situation.

In the letter, Thielman expressed his excitement to welcome back students soon. However, he said the start of school will be pushed back due to an elementary teacher testing positive.

“Because our awesome staff was in training, the number of potential exposures for staff is sizable enough to force a delay to the start of the school year. We simply do not have enough certified and classified substitutes to cover for the exposed staff members,” he said.

The Alsea School District was supposed to start school this Monday, August 23. It has now been pushed to next Monday, August 30.

Over in Culver, schools will now start on September 20. This pushes the school year back by 9 days, in order for faculty and staff to fully plan and prepare for any challenges caused by the recently announced vaccine mandate for educators.

In a letter to parents, Principal and Superintendent Stafanie Garber said the district’s goal is to keep every employee.

“We anticipate there will be other state mandates in the next 4 weeks, based on last year’s
pattern,” Garber said. “This includes the possibility of mandated implementation of distance learning (the
state told districts this week that we should be ready for it). We want the ability to be prepared
for whatever comes, so that we can continue to provide the best possible education and services.”

Garber said their goal is to minimize disruption to families as much as possible.

Meanwhile, South Umpqua High School is delaying its start date as well.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, South Umpqua School District Superintendent Kate McLaughlin told parents the school does not have enough staff to begin the school year as scheduled. She said multiple high school staff members are currently in isolation or quarantine — and that one staff member sadly lost their life to COVID-19.

The one-week delay, McLaughlin said, is to give time for the school community to grieve while also providing time for those sick with the coronavirus to heal and return from quarantine.

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