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Susan McLain and other House Democrats: 'We know in-person learning is what will help our students succeed.'

COURTESY PHOTO - Susan McLainFor over a year, families, parents, students, and teachers alike have braved through a difficult time of virtual learning, sacrificing the in-person experience for the greater good and safety of others.

As members of the state's Legislature, we have watched closely as responses to the pandemic have been developed and helped to craft policies that will reduce the impact of the virus.

We are also grandparents, and it's our grandchildren who are often our north star; our guiding light as we push for a better future. The love we have for them has no bounds. and we want them, and all of Oregon's students, to succeed.

For months now, principals, teachers, aides, and other school staff have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming in-person school year. Our grandchildren are counting the days to get back to friends, activities, and favorite subject areas of study.

We want to thank those school employees for all they are doing to abide by and ensure our students are following good public health protocols. Thank you for getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and taking the steps that will make it so that our grandchildren and all of Oregon's students can return safely.

From the flood of calls and emails from our constituents to the conversations with our own grandkids, we know in-person learning is what will help our students succeed. We hear about the isolation children have felt during virtual schooling and we have seen signs of that within our own families. We hear from teachers, who struggle to make that connection or understand what children need through a computer screen.

It is clear that there are certain benefits to in-person schooling that cannot be replicated in virtual classrooms.

When we look at how students can safely return to school and be successful, all evidence points to two tools to prevent the spread of the delta variant and keep our children safe as they return to school: masks and vaccines.

Masks are an act of kindness, a way to show you care about the other person's well-being and health. We know vaccinated people can still carry and transmit the delta variant, so masking up will be essential to maintain a safe return to school.

Vaccines will help us prevent severe cases and ensure our teachers, and eligible students, are safe and healthy. And while some folks have chosen to politicize these health and safety measures, misguiding their constituents and the general public, we choose to put our grandkids — our future — first.

Our work as legislators and grandparents doesn't end here.

Currently, about 60% of Oregonians are fully vaccinated. With a lot of misinformation out there, we understand this can be a tough decision and encourage anyone who is unsure to talk to their primary care or health care provider to make the decision that is best for you. And if you have been meaning to get vaccinated but aren't sure where to start, you can visit getvaccinated.oregon.gov. It's never too late.

If we fully commit to following these safety measures — masking up, getting vaccinated, and doing our part to protect kids — we can ensure that schools stay open, and our grandkids, kids, nephews, nieces, and so on are all protected. We can look forward to a full year of in-person learning in the classroom where our students' needs are fully met. Most importantly, together, we can secure a brighter and safer future.

Susan McLain is state representative for House District 29, including Forest Grove, Cornelius and West Hillsboro. A Democrat, she lives in Forest Grove. John Lively is a Springfield Democrat representing House District 12. Mark Meek is a Gladstone Democrat representing House District 40. Rob Nosse is a Portland Democrat representing House District 42. Jeff Reardon is a Happy Valley Democrat representing House District 48.


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