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One board member disagreed with push for governor to reevaluate health metrics

The Lake Oswego School Board adopted two resolutions regarding state guidance and returning to school at a meeting Monday, Oct. 19. The resolution regarding state guidance passed 4-1, while the resolution regarding returning to school passed unanimously.

The first resolution thanks Gov. Kate Brown for committing to reevaluate the metrics for resuming in-person learning, encourages her to prioritize a return to school buildings for students bearing the disproportionate impacts of school closures and encourages her to prioritize the return to school for kindergarten through fifth grade students by establishing health metrics that align with neighboring states or by delegating authority to local school districts.

Board member Liz Hartman made the motion to adopt the resolution.

"The resolution is to say that we are staying in compliance, but we would like to get back to learning as soon as possible," Hartman said.

Board member Kirsten Aird seconded the motion to adopt the resolution.

"The state of Oregon was one of the first states to come out with school guidance and it really was expected all along that we were going to reevaluate metrics to see how they were going," she said. "And so it's really reasonable to ask for reevaluation, and in doing so it just offers assurances that what they're doing is the right thing to be doing."

Aird said school districts are important stakeholders and it's important that districts share feedback with governing agencies on how things are going.

During discussion, board member John Wallin voiced a different point of view.

"I think it's pointing out all the reasons that in-person instruction and services are better than online, and it makes the case really well," he said. "But I have concerns about the direction of this resolution."

He cited data that indicates Oregon has the fourth lowest transmission rate in the country, while neighboring states all have higher transmission rates and death rates.

"I don't feel like this resolution is actionable on our part. I think it does something, which I am not in support [of], which is telling scientists and health professionals the data we want to use," he said.

The second resolution brought to the board Oct. 19 was directed to Superintendent Lora de la Cruz.

It directs de la Cruz to prioritize in-person instruction and services for students bearing the disproportionate impact of school closures to the extent practical for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Further, the resolution directs the superintendent to accelerate planning for a safe return to school buildings for all grade levels, with immediate planning for kindergarten through fifth grade.

Wallin made a motion to adopt the resolution and Hartman seconded his motion.

"The thing about this resolution is that it gives direction to our superintendent to figure out how to prioritize returning students to in-person learning," he said.

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