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Anticipating Closures, Grants Pass Schools Move To Remote Learning

Teacher Austyn McNew's second-grade class at Fort Vannoy Elementary School in Grants Pass.
Austyn McNew
Teacher Austyn McNew's second-grade class at Fort Vannoy Elementary School in Grants Pass.

In the past three weeks, Josephine County’s COVID metrics for schools have gone from the green to orange categories laid out by the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority.

According to Kirk Kolb, superintendent of Grants Pass School District 7, the county is just 30 cases from the strictest, red category, which triggers closures.

“In meeting with the local health authority, they were very confident that we were trending well into the red, or more than 200 cases per 100,000 population,” Kolb says.

So, on Tuesday, they made the call to go remote, in order to help families and teachers plan for the following week.

“We felt it pertinent to make this decision to give everybody enough time to make the transition,” Kolb says.

Limited “in-person instruction” will continue for students in grades K-6 for those who have higher needs, who lack necessary technology, or who are doing career, technical education.

A representative from Three Rivers, the Josephine County’s other school district, said they are still planning to return to in-person instruction beginning November 30. He said they’ll continue following state metrics until they’re required to go remote.

Superintendent Kolb says because of the significant reduction in COVID cases necessary to go back from the state’s red to yellow category that allows on-site learning, their best estimate is to begin meeting in person on January 4, after students’ winter break.

With two typically large family holidays on the horizon, that could be the best case scenario.

“We got a lot of work to do as a community,” Kolb says.

Copyright 2020 Jefferson Public Radio

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.