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While there are no official cases locally, the district is following state directives

On Thursday evening Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a statewide closure of schools beginning Monday and continuing through the end of March.

Friday was the final day of school for students in Newberg and Dundee, who are expected to return to the classroom on April 1; staff are expected to return on March 30 for planning purposes.

The Newberg School District sent out a detailed message to parents around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night with specific directions for local students and families.

During the school closure, all sporting events and extracurricular activities will be cancelled. It is unclear at this time whether those events will be rescheduled for a later date.

"Schools are critical institutions that provide important services for all our students, but especially our most vulnerable, and during this crisis I have worked hard to ensure those critical services continue," Brown said in a prepared statement. "So many of our families depend on school in order for parents to go to their jobs and for students to access health care and receive nutrition assistance. However, I have heard from superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents and students that it has now become impossible to functionally operate schools due to workforce issues and student absences. Schools are experiencing critical shortages in staff and superintendents are concerned for school personnel who are at elevated risk such as those over age 60 and those with underlying medical issues.

"I want to be very clear: sending Oregon children home will not stop the spread of the coronavirus. While children are home, when at all possible, they should not be in the care of older adults or those with underlying health issues that are most at-risk from COVID-19."

According to Newberg School District spokesman Gregg Koskela, the district is working on contingency planning for students who need food assistance and are normally on free or reduced lunch.

The district also plans to provide some form of educational materials to students and encourages families to keep an eye on social media and their emails for updates.

"Schools are essential to communities, providing many services," Koskela said in the message to the district. "We know that extending spring break will cause difficulties for many families who rely on their schools for meals, mental health supports and a safe place to be during the day. Because of this, we do not make this decision lightly. Extending spring break is a preventative measure to help slow the rate of spread of coronavirus and, as public health agencies explain, flatten the curve of the virus's impact on our citizens and health care systems."

For more updates or information, keep an eye on Newberg.k12.or.us as well as the Newberg School District's Facebook and Twitter pages. Updates will be sent out by Koskela and district staff via email throughout the closure.

The state will continue to evaluate the status of the COVID-19 outbreak and will either confirm or adjust return dates by March 25.

School briefs

Learn to plant a garden and harvest your own food thanks to YCAP

A comprehensive, six-week program for people to learn how to grow their own food is on tap soon thanks to Yamhill County Action Partnership (YCAP). Garden to Table is a six-week course that allows participants to learn what it takes to grow a portion of the food they eat on a limited budget. The effort is a partnership between YCAP and Oregon State University and is offered for free at hosts sights throughout Yamhill County. Classes are available in English and Spanish and are available to teenagers as well as adults. For more information, visit at www.ycmga.org/g2t.

Farm Bureau college scholarships now available to area students

The Yamhill County Farm Bureau plans to award two separate $2,000 scholarships to students this year. The scholarships are being offered to students who have finished at least one year of college pursuing a degree related to agriculture. Those who apply for the scholarships must have a college GPA of 2.5 or better and be graduates of a Yamhill County high school, or their family must have lived in the county during their senior year of high school. Application materials must include an official transcript and two references and more information is available at www.OregonFB.org/scholarships.

Providence Newberg Medical Center is offering scholarships

Providence Newberg Medical Center will award six $1,500 scholarships to area high school students this spring and those students are being invited to apply. Seniors who plan on continuing their education to pursue careers in the healthcare industry can apply by visiting www.providence.org/newberg and filling out an application, with the deadline for mailing it to PNMC set for March 22. Students who live throughout Yamhill and Washington counties are welcome to apply for the scholarships, which have been distributed since 2003.


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