Umatilla Co. students return to distance learning as COVID cases spike

Hermiston School District 16 By 9
PC: Hermiston School District

UMATILLA COUNTY, Ore. – A few weeks after some students returned to classrooms in Umatilla County, school districts are resorting to 100% distance learning again.

RELATED: Gov. Brown announces 2-week shutdown for Umatilla and other counties

The new restrictions come after Governor Kate Brown announced on Friday that Umatilla County was one of several to be put under tighter restrictions amid a sharp increase in local cases.

RELATED: Umatilla County workplace coronavirus outbreaks among worst in state

“I am heartbroken over this turn of events,” said Superintendent Dr. Tricia Mooney. “These student interactions – teacher to student and with peers – is vital to the well being of all involved, students and adults! Even though the district has not had any workplace or student to student virus transmissions, it is my sincere hope that with all of us doing our part, we can reduce our case count and return our students to classrooms.”

Three weeks ago, Hermiston School District began limited in-person instruction by bringing some students back to classrooms at six of their eight schools. The students who returned were those with high needs, such as those with language barriers or disabilities.

PREVIOUSLY: Some Hermiston students returning to school part-time starting Monday

Now, Hermiston School District is reversing course and pausing all in-person student activities, including athletics, starting Monday, November 9.

The district is offering help for families at their district office. Parents and students can stop by from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday to get a Chromebook or hotspot, or to get technical support and homework help.

A week ago on November 2, the Milton-Freewater Unified School District brought all students back to distance learning due to the COVID spike.

RELATED: Second driver involved in deadly Umatilla County crash arrested

Superintendent Aaron Duff indicated in a press release this closure could last weeks.

“We know this is a hard time for our community and our hearts go out to those who are ill. We will remain in contact with you to update the status of our schools,” Duff wrote in a letter to parents.

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