Due to rising COVID-19 case rates, all Klamath County students, including K-3 and students in rural schools, will return to comprehensive distance learning on Monday, Nov. 30.

Klamath County Public Health, after completing a significant portion of new case investigations late Friday, announced that new COVID-19 case rates in the county exceeded 200 per 100,000, requiring students to return to comprehensive distance learning after the Thanksgiving break.

Klamath County Public Health Assistant Director Jessica Dale made the announcement in an email to district superintendents.

“Though previous recommendations have been to continue in-person education based on limited community spread and no impact to school communities, we now find ourselves in a different situation,” Dale said. “We remain strong advocates for the importance of in-person learning for the social, emotional, and physical health of our community youth. However, we also are dedicated to making recommendations that place safety and community health at the forefront. … We look forward to our continued collaboration as we bring students back to in person learning as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District, said the need to return to distance learning districtwide is disappointing.

“Our schools have been doing an exemplary job, and it was great to see all of our students in class last week,” he said. “However, with the upward trend of cases in our community, we must prioritize the safety of our students and staff and do our part to minimize any spread of the virus.”

Students who have not yet done comprehensive distance learning this year will be contacted by their schools after Thanksgiving break. All KCSD teachers and students are on Thanksgiving break next week (Nov. 23-27).

To reopen schools to in-person learning, the number of new cases needs to be under 68 over a two-week period and the test positivity rate needs to be less than 8%.

Szymoniak encouraged the community to follow the safety protocols – wearing face coverings, washing hands, limiting social gatherings, and maintaining physical distancing.

“We worked hard to bring our all of our students back into the classrooms, and we encourage everyone to do their part to bring our case numbers down,” he said. “As the holidays approach, how our community chooses to celebrate will make a difference. Let’s work together so our students can return to their classrooms.