Thanks to the hard work of staff over months of planning, our schools have reopened for in-person learning. We believe students learn best in the classroom, and with over 85 percent of our students returning to our classrooms over the last few weeks, feel support for this option from our families.
School reopening has brought a welcome sense of the familiar for our staff and families. I am filled with hope and optimism seeing our school buses driving on the streets, students waving to each other in the hallways, youngsters playing on our playgrounds, and, above all, students learning inside our classrooms. Our goal is to keep our schools open for students and families, but we need your help to do this.
As many of you know, a recent large weekend gathering involving many local youth resulted in a large number of cases connected to one of our high schools, forcing us to halt in-person learning at the school for more than a week. While not an outcome we want, we believe this incident showed that our systems are working well. We were able to catch cases, conduct contact tracing and prevent further community spread. To date, we do not believe any of the 43 cases associated with this outbreak spread within our school. In short: Our safety protocols are working. Please join me in thanking our incredible, dedicated school nursing staff for their efforts in contact tracing and health support.
This experience also underscores a point we want students, staff and families to keep at the forefront of your minds when making choices: your behavior outside of school has a tremendous impact inside our schools.
To those in our community who are following guidelines and making sacrifices to stay safe, thank you! We appreciate your actions. We have been encouraged by decreased COVID-19 case counts in our county in recent weeks and we want to keep it that way. We need everyone - students, staff, families, and community members - to help us keep our doors open.
Seeing students learning in-person gives me hope and optimism for the future.
We are asking everyone to help in the following ways:
- Wear face coverings when around people who don't live in your home.
- Keep gatherings small - up to 6 individuals for indoor gatherings. As Deschutes County is in the High Risk category, Oregon Health Authority guidelines call for limiting indoor gatherings to no more than six people,
- Stay home when sick.
- Wash hands often.
- Keep appropriate distances between yourself and others who don’t live in your home.
Additionally, we want to share Oregon’s travel guidelines, especially as spring break approaches. Individuals who have traveled out of state (domestic or international) should do the following:
- Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel.
- Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.
- If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- If you don’t get tested, it’s safest to stay home for 10 days after travel. Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
Also take these actions for 14 days after you return from travel to protect others from getting COVID-19:
- Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you, particularly in crowded areas. It’s important to do this both indoors and outdoors.
- Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces outside of your home, including when using public transportation.
- If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a mask and ask everyone in the household to wear masks in shared spaces inside your home.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness.
- Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19, and take your temperature if you feel sick.
We can do this. We are relying on one another and our community to keep our schools open.
All the best,
Lora Nordquist, Interim Superintendent