Oregon governor ordering teachers to return to classroom

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon governor Kate Brown announced Friday that she passed an ordinance requiring all K-12 public schools to have universal access to face-to-face learning for students through fifth grade and by mid-month Offer until the end of the month -April for older students.
The state's coronavirus case numbers have plummeted in recent weeks, and Oregon has put teachers on the line of COVID-19 vaccines in front of older residents - a decision that upset many people 65 and over. When teachers were vaccinated, Brown was under tremendous pressure from parents and local elected officials in many counties to reopen schools.
Many national teachers' unions have opposed a return to face-to-face learning, bringing them into conflict with Democratic governors like Brown in some states.
In neighboring Washington state, Governor Jay Inslee has urged educators to return to the classroom, but most of the students there are in online classes and the Seattle Teachers Union is opposed to a district plan to bring special education students back to schools. In Chicago, the teachers' union agreed last month to return to class with expanded access to vaccinations and metrics, which will mean re-schooling if the case numbers rise.
The Oregon regulation requires students in K-5 to have an in-person study option by March 29th. Students in grades 6 through 12 must have one by April 19. Students who prefer to stay in online classes also have the option.
State education officials have until March 19 to revise their personal instruction guidelines to help districts make return easier, she said.
“The science is very, very clear: if proper security measures are in place, there is little risk of spreading COVID-19 in school. Parents in Oregon can rest assured they are sending their children back to a classroom learning environment, "Brown said in a statement after attending a school in Portland.
In a letter to the state health department, Brown said she was "relieved" that she could take steps to get children back to school.
"I have so much hope for Oregon's children, their parents and their schools as we continue to navigate this pandemic," she said in the letter. "Our children are our future and we have to do everything we can to make up for that." 2020 losses. "
State Department of Education data shows that about 20% of Oregon public schools are already studying full-time on-site, mostly in rural areas with fewer students in the east and central areas. Another 23% offer hybrid learning and 56% currently offer almost exclusively distance learning, with in-person tuition limited for students with additional needs.
Rylee Ahnen, spokeswoman for the Oregon Education Association, said in a statement that teachers encourage return to the classroom when it is safe to do so.
He said the union understands the frustrations of both school districts and parents as everyone navigates how to get back to class and that most districts are already planning some kind of face-to-face study in the coming weeks.
"We hear, understand and share the frustration many in our communities are expressing about the insecurity this pandemic has created for our public education system," he said.
The union represents 44,000 K-12 teachers across Oregon.
Oregon began vaccinating teachers in front of seniors in January, but the state health department can't say for sure how many educators were vaccinated because it doesn't record the occupation of the recipients. The union was also unable to say what percentage of teachers received the vaccine.
Brown said all but six counties in the state currently meet or exceed the counseling metrics for a return to face-to-face hybrid learning for all grade levels. Five of the districts that do not yet meet the guidelines for all grade levels are making the deadlines for returning to elementary school.
According to this data, all Oregon public schools are operated on either a full-day in-person school visit or a hybrid model where students spend part of the day or a few days per week in a classroom and other parts of the day or week online. The approach districts take is determined by the COVID-19 case numbers in their district and local decisions, officials said.
Portland Public Schools, the state's largest district with 49,000 students in 81 schools, planned to bring back elementary school students back in April. It's unclear whether Brown's order affects this timeline.
The second largest in the state after Portland, Salem Keizer School District announced on Friday that it will be welcoming middle and high school students back to a hybrid model that combines face-to-face and distance learning from April 13th.
Elementary school students in the district were already back in class using a hybrid model.
Elsewhere, the governor of California signed a bill on Friday aimed at getting public school students back into classrooms. It is offering $ 2 billion to school districts reopening physical classrooms by the end of March.
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Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus
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