Portland, Ore. — Late Thursday night, Oregon Governor Kate Brown ordered all K-12 schools in the state closed starting Monday, March 16th.
The closure will last through at least March 31st.
“Schools are critical institutions that provide important services for all our students, but especially our most vulnerable, and during this crisis I have worked hard to ensure those critical services continue. So many of our families depend on school in order for parents to go to their jobs, and for students to access health care and receive nutrition assistance,” said Governor Brown.
“However, I have heard from superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, and students that it has now become impossible to functionally operate schools due to workforce issues and student absences. Schools are experiencing critical shortages in staff, and superintendents are concerned for school personnel who are at elevated risk such as those over age 60 and those with underlying medical issues.
“I want to be very clear: sending Oregon children home will not stop the spread of the coronavirus. While children are home, when at all possible, they should not be in the care of older adults or those with underlying health issues that are most at-risk from COVID-19.
“This is a trying time for our community and I am reluctant to increase the burden on families who are already struggling to adapt to and stay healthy during this crisis. However, we are left with little choice in light of school districts’ staff capacity and operational concerns. I want to thank all of the teachers and school employees who have worked hard to keep our schools open until now.”
Per the Governor’s directives and with the support of the Oregon Department of Education and the state’s Early Learning Division, during the closure:
“We are in close communication with school districts across the state, and they will be communicating regularly with their school communities throughout the closure period,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “Due to the evolving nature of this crisis, these timelines will be reevaluated in late March in consultation with school administrators.”
Some schools are closing earlier. The Parkrose School District says elementary schools will be closed Friday, March 13th but Middle and High Schools will be open.
Schools in the Greater Albany School District are also closing starting Friday, March 13th.