Dr. Sidelinger (Health Officer and State Epidemiologist for the Oregon Public Health Division), discussed in his press conference yesterday how we can create an environment where it is safe for students and staff to return to schools. Right now, we do not meet the statewide metric for returning to in-person classroom instruction, which is having less than 5% positivity for COVID-19.

Fifteen counties do meet the metric for prioritizing the resumption of K-3 instruction: Benton, Clatsop, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Harney, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Tillamook, Wallowa and Wheeler.

While our COVID-19 data shows we are doing better than many other states, the virus continues to be a threat in our communities, and we’re not close to keeping the infection rate at a level we’d need to safely reopen schools across Oregon – and keep students and staff in schools safely.

Statewide, our case counts are now averaging under 300 a day. To meet the reopening metric, that number would need to drop to about 60 per day.

To safely reopen schools, we need to make sure people who become infected are passing it along to fewer people, so that the virus is not spreading at a sustainable rate. It’s a heavy lift, but we are making progress. Our collective actions have reduced transmission rates since the increase we saw after the state reopened, and we see that confirmed by the decline in new infections and hospitalizations.

Your actions – keeping physical distance, limiting the size of social get-togethers and wearing your face covering – are making a difference. The more people who get on board, the faster we can get to that reopening metric and get students and staff back to in-person instruction safely.