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Sweet Home schools to close Monday after governor orders two-week statewide school closures


March 11, 2020

Sweet Home schools Supt. Tom Yahraes said that Sweet Home School District will be open Friday, but beginning Monday it will remain closed until April 1 following Gov. Kate Brown's order to close all K-12 schools beginning Monday.

“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,” Brown said. “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.”

The district had been keeping schools open as long as possible following guidance from Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Yahraes said, while working behind the scenes to plan for possible closures.

During the closure, all athletics and activities are canceled, Yahraes said.

At this time, students are expected to return to school on April 1, Yahraes said. The closure is from March 16 to March 31.

At this time, he said, Sweet Home has had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among School District students or staff.

“I want to be very clear,” Brown said. “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.”

“I wish to thank students, parents, staff, and community members for your support and patience in these quickly changing times,” Yahraes said. “In following the guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, these measures are intended to help protect the most vulnerable populations and keep our students, families, and staff as safe and healthy as possible.”

“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.”

During the closure, Brown said, school districts are directed to develop plans for returning to school that accommodate ongoing impacts of coronavirus. Staff should utilize the final two days of March to finalize plans for operating schools under updated measures, with students expected to return on April 1.

Districts are tasked with developing plans to continue nutrition services during the closure.

The Oregon Department of Education will examine the impact the closure will have on instructional time.

School districts will ensure adequate cleaning supplies for increased cleaning protocols following the closure.

The Early Learning Division will support child care programs and will work to identify resources to support child care needs for the most vulnerable families, as well as health care professionals and first responders.

Around the city, the Sweet Home Public Library remains closed. Public Works is closed to the public, although it remains fully operational.

City Hall, the Police Department and Municipal Court remain open for normal business hours.

Staff is following CDC recommended cleaning and disinfecting protocols, with a focus is on the safety and well-being of community members and employees.


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