Board votes 3-2 against resolution asking governor to reevaluate school reopening criteria

The West Linn-Wilsonville School Board voted 3-2 against a resolution encouraging Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to reevaluate the return-to-school health metrics.

Board members Dylan Hydes and Christy Thompson presented the resolution in the special board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 14. The resolution thanked the governor for agreeing to reevaluate state metrics for returning to in-person instruction and encouraged that she regularly reevaluate the metrics as more knowledge of COVID-19 arose.

The resolution asked that the governor base metrics on science rather than political pressure. Further, it requested that the governor look at the successes and failures of school districts across the country to reassess metrics and to consider the possible consequences of returning to school too late.

Hydes said he knew the governor had weighed the risks of sending students back to school too soon.

But "it's not clear to me that Gov. Brown has considered the cost of not opening schools," he said.

Hydes said families with a lower socioeconomic standing cannot afford to hire tutors or additional resources.

Thompson emphasized that their resolution was not meant to speak ill of the district's approach to comprehensive distance learning. She thanked the district for the hard work it's doing with remote learning.

Board member Ginger Fitch did not support the resolution. "I think it's a political statement," she said.

She said she favored the current situation over a constant state of reevaluation.

Fitch added that she wouldn't feel comfortable passing the resolution without enough time for it to be vetted by district staff and their association.

"I don't think I need to talk to district staff to make sure that we base a decision on science rather than political pressure," Hydes said.

The board received over 80 public comments about the resolution. Seventeen comments supported the resolution and 63 discouraged the adoption of the resolution.

Board member Chelsea King was unsure how she would vote throughout the discussion, but ultimately voted "no" due to her reservations over the volume of opposition in the public comments — including those that came from staff.

Hydes said what the teachers were against was a resolution that pressures the governor to reopen schools. He said they were misinformed comments.

Board Chair Regan Molatore also voted against the resolution. She said the ramifications of the resolution could cause more harm than good.

View the full resolution here.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.