PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday announced that all schools in the state will remain closed through the end of the 2019-20 school year to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Brown said all in-person classes will be canceled but school will continue through distance learning.
"Deciding to close now ... allows us to invest time and resources in the delivery of learning and supporting our students through distance education and remote means," Brown said.
It’s nearly impossible to keep social distancing at schools—and avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus. That played heavily in the governor’s decision.
“It is about safety. First and foremost to protect our kids and our teachers. It is impossible to adhere to social distancing measures in our classrooms and our schools,” said Brown.
All seniors who were on track to graduate prior to classes being canceled, including having passing grades in all courses required for graduation, will receive passing grades and earn a diploma, Brown said.
Seniors who did not have passing grades can work with schools to improve their grades, the governor said.
Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill said they're developing guidance on how schools and districts should help non-seniors earn credits so they can qualify for graduation in the coming three years.
"We have been trying to make decisions as we understand conditions on the ground, and we all have to have a bit of grace and patience," Gill said.
Some of the options under consideration, according to the Oregonian, include summer school programs for some or all students, and the potential of starting next school year early to give students more in-person education.
On March 31, in a letter sent to superintendents and principals throughout Oregon, Gill said there was a possibility that students wouldn't return to their classrooms for the remainder of the school year, relying instead on online learning.
Many school districts have started distance learning over the past couple weeks with supplemental lessons and assignments. According to the Oregon Department of Education's "Distance Learning For All" plan, every district in the state is required to have a distance learning plan in place by April 13.
On Monday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that all Washington in-person classes at public, private and charter K-12 schools would be closed through the academic year.