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Medford School Board Asks State To Ease In-Person Learning Restrictions

A boy and girl wearing masks and backpacks prepare to leave for school.
Kelly Sikkema via unsplash

The Medford school board is urging Governor Kate Brown to loosen regulations on in-person learning, despite the high number of coronavirus cases in Jackson County.

The Medford School District board passed a resolution Thursday night asking the governor to prioritize bringing all students back to school, starting with students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The resolution says online learning has created significant challenges for low-income students, and it has left many students feeling isolated and depressed.

“We want the kids back in school because we recognize the need for kids to be in a brick-and-mortar learning environment for their social-emotional health, their academic learning,” says board chair Jeffrey Kinsella.

The state had eased some in-person learning restrictions in late October, but Jackson County’s coronavirus numbers have remained too high for its school districts to see many changes.

Kinsella says a few other districts in Southern Oregon are considering signing onto Medford’s resolution or creating a similar one of their own.

The resolution says school districts “serve as guardians against transmission because social distancing and masking are adhered to, contact tracing is performed, and robust communication with local public health authority occurs.”

The resolution also asks the governor to reduce community spread through other unspecified measures in order to prioritize education. It also calls for additional funding to “manage the increased costs of in-person instruction during the pandemic.”

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.