Delay Full Reopening of 4J Schools Until Transmission Levels Drop

4J School Board

a young child grimaces getting his covid test

According to the CDC, Lane County is currently at a "high" (dark red) level of community transmission of Covid-19, due to the current spike of the Delta variant. This is the worst time in the pandemic so far. Our area hospitals operating in crisis mode and case counts are nearly double what they were at the worst week of the winter. The Delta variant is more transmissible and possibly more severe in unvaccinated children, and this is causing more Oregon kids to be hospitalized at a time when hospitals are short on capacity. We are asking the 4J School Board to delay full reopening until the virus transmission has decreased from high to "moderate" (yellow) levels. This will mean that when we do come back, we can stay safer and stay open, without the likelihood of mass quarantines. Please join other Oregon school districts in Douglas and Tillamook counties that have chosen to delay.

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To: 4J School Board
From: [Your Name]

Dear 4-J school board members,

We all want our kids to return to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so. We love our kids, our schools, our teachers, our nurses and doctors, and our broader community, and we want to do what's right. We applaud the herculean efforts of our teachers, staff, administrators, public health workers, and our kids, who have been so resilient and adaptable throughout the past 18 months. But after so much sacrifice, we fear that if we reopen now, at the very worst moment of the pandemic so far, we risk creating chaos and harm: mass quarantines, short staffing, and increased Delta infections among our whole community. A delay until the worst of this wave is over would likely avoid this, and allow more time for everyone to prepare to better mitigate Delta transmission in our schools, with more robust mitigation strategies such as issuing kids K94 masks, daily rapid testing, outdoor lunch, better ventilation and vaccination.

Lane County is currently at a "high" (dark red) level of community transmission of Covid-19, due to the spike of the Delta variant. Communities with a high level of transmission that have already reopened schools, even with high vaccination rates and mask mandates, are seeing mass quarantines and rising case counts in children.
See e.g. in Hawaii,

and in California,

For the safety and stability of our families, and for the sake of our health care workers, we are urging you to delay the full reopening schools in our community until the pandemic declines to a "moderate" (yellow) level of transmission. We believe that schools can be made mostly safe for our children, but not at the extreme level of transmission we are experiencing at the current time.

In order to accommodate this delay, we request the 4J school board broaden the definition of "instructional minutes" to include the broadest possible range of activity, so that the school calendar does not have to be fundamentally reworked, and school leaders can have some flexibility in finding solutions to ensure that the school year starts off smoothly and safely.

We urge you to consider providing free lunch to students and partnering with the city and community based organizations to support families through this difficult period with childcare, counseling, and whatever other supports are possible.

We also ask you to direct the superintendent to bargain in good faith with the teachers to ensure their needs and priorities are reflected in any revised reopening timelines and plans.

Yours truly,

The undersigned 4J parents and concerned community members.