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Thousands of Oregon educators call for '14 days of no new COVID cases' before reopening schools

A Facebook group of more than 9,000 educators and parents want 14 days of no new COVID-19 cases before Oregon opens schools.

PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 9,000 teachers and parents have joined the "Oregon for a Safe Return to Campus" Facebook group calling on Gov. Kate Brown to agree to 14 days of no new cases before returning to school in the fall. 

"The main message is that 14 days of no new cases in a county ensures that it's safe for students to come back for face-to-face instruction. A lot of times in schools, we set a date but the virus doesn't care what your calendar says," said Ian Mauer, one of the group organizers.

There has been a big push to get kids back in some form this fall.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidance that encourages kids to be physically present in schools. AAP officials said kids are less likely to spread COVID-19 and being in school will help in their educational and developmental needs. The APA then clarified their stance two weeks later that kids should go back in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff. 

"We want the kids back too. I mean, honestly, my favorite part of the job is interacting with young people and getting to know them. And it is so hard to do that over a screen," said Maurer.

Mauer said school this fall will not be the school most kids remember complete with masks, social distancing and cohorts of students. 

"The school of the past is not what they would be coming back to and I believe that people talk about mental health. It would be dramatic for a student to return to a school and then have it shut down or even worse, have a peer or a teacher gets sick and pass away," said Maurer.

KGW asked Brown about the call for "14 days, no new cases" at a news conference Wednesday but she did not answer the question about the group's specific request. 

"I will just say to parents across the state, school reopening is going to look different than it has in the past. Whether or not they return to school buildings, we have to provide the best education to all of our kids," said Brown.

Mauer said there is nothing more important than figuring this out.

"These are teachers who love their job and love their students and want to keep working with their students. But it's a hard choice when it is, you know, life or death decision that you're making," said Mauer.

The group is planning a statewide day of action on Monday, July 27, in Salem to call attention to their movement. 

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