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Back to School in the Fall . . . Maybe
The bill is simple

Oregon is now on it’s 7th extension of Governor Brown’s Executive Order on the COVID-19 State of Emergency and the Governor is giving no indications of an end in sight. The 8th extension, if she does one, will take affect the end June aligning with the end of the Legislative session and would run 60 days through the end of the summer butting right up to the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

School districts are already well into budget preparation for the 2021-22 school year. The Governor’s proposed budget is $9.1B, but in a Portland Tribune article last month Libra Forde, chair of the North Clackamas School Board and a member of the Oregon School Boards Association Board of Directors told reporters that “After a year of unfinished education and increased social emotional challenges, investing in our kids is paramount”. She was reacting to the legislature consideration of adopting the Governors recommendation which she and others consider $500M underfunded. They have concluded that “just to keep pace on paying the bills over the next two years our schools need $9.6 billion — not the $9.1 billion currently under consideration”.

However, what is being left unsaid, is that the Oregon State School Fund budget pales in comparison to the COVID-19 relief funding already received and on its way that is estimated at an additional $1.72 Billion.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund In addition, not a single school district has stated publicly that they will return to 100% in person full time learning in the fall. After all, how could they make that pledge not knowing what the Governor, the Oregon Department of Education or the Oregon Health Authority will have in place for rules in September?

This week, a bicameral group of legislators is seeking to give those school districts the certainty they need to know that they will be opening in the fall to all students for in person learning and that they need to plan their budgets accordingly. Representative Breese-Iverson (R–Prineville), Boshart Davis (R–Albany), Drazen (R–Canby) and Senator Girod (R–Lyons) introduced HB 3399 which requires each public school to provide full-time, in-person classroom instruction during 2021-2022 school year, and takes effective July 1, 2021. The bill is simple, it says: Not withstanding any COVID-19 declaration of emergency or any provisions of a COVID-19 emergency rule, each public school in this state must provide full-time, in-person classroom instruction during the 2021-2022 school year.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-11 09:08:34

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