Distance learning will continue until COVID-19 infections reach safer levels

COURTESY PHOTO: HELLO I'M NIK FOR UNSPLASH - Gresham-Barlow Schools will keep distance learning in place until at least the end of November.

The Gresham-Barlow School District will continue its online learning through at least the end of November, the district announced Wednesday.

Gresham-Barlow's move follows Portland Public Schools announcement a day earlier, Tuesday, Oct. 6, that the state's largest district would continue online until at least Jan. 28, 2021.

Students in Multnomah County public schools have been learning online since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic was gathering steam and schools were closed. The virus has already killed more than 580 Oregonians and infected more than 35,000.

The state developed strict benchmarks as to when schools would be able to open safely.

"As of October 6, 2020, those metrics have not been met," the district said in the Wednesday, Oct. 7, announcement.

Districts are making careful plans for when they might be able to open the schoolhouse doors for certain groups of students such as the youngest pupils or high schoolers behind in their credits to graduate.

Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday, Oct. 6, that despite increasing coronavirus transmission numbers statewide, the state is looking at revisiting and relaxing the infection benchmarks in order to accelerate the opening of school buildings.

The state is obtaining an increased number of rapid COVID-19 tests, which will help in the battle against the virus, Brown said, but added that "we cannot test our way out of this pandemic."

Brown also said "my top priority to is make sure that we get our kids back to school safely."

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