Coronavirus Update: Ready Schools, Safe Learners

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Coronavirus Update: Ready Schools, Safe Learners

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Just a quick note to say there won’t be a newsletter tomorrow, but we’ll be back on Friday.

There’s lots of news today, so please read on!

Today, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released its initial guidelines for K-12 students to return safely for the 2020-21 school year. School districts, educators, and parents will need to work together to make sure our young people can be successful this fall.

The full 46-page guidance, called “Ready Schools, Safe Learners,” can be found here and will be updated throughout the summer and into the school year as the state progresses in its fight against coronavirus. The guidance was put together with the Oregon Health Authority to do everything possible to protect community health. The Oregonian has an article about the guidelines here.

The focus is the safe reentry of staff and students to our schools. This is uncharted territory, and it’s clear this virus will be in our communities in some form for the foreseeable future.

The framework focuses on each school district crafting an Operational Blueprint for Reentry. Each blueprint will be tailored to the local context and informed by local needs. These plans will need to be approved by ODE.

Each Operational Blueprint for Reentry must address eight essential elements, which the full guidance discusses in more details:

  1. Public Health Protocols
  2. Facilities and School Operations
  3. Response to Outbreak
  4. Equity
  5. Instruction
  6. Family and Community Engagement
  7. Mental, Social and Emotional Health
  8. Staffing and Personnel

By August 15 or prior to the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the local school board (or private school operator) must review the Operational Blueprint for Reentry and make it available to the community online. The blueprints will require that every school building, under the direction of the district, determine whether they teach all students on site, teach all students through new comprehensive distance learning, or utilize a hybrid model.

Instruction Year 2020-21

Instructional Model 2020-21 ODE

Apologies if the print above is too small. Links to those documents are available here and here.

The emphasis on communicable disease management is really key in all of this, and there has to be close coordination between school districts and their local public health authorities.

The guidance includes seven key principles for reducing potential virus exposure:

  1. Physical distancing — minimizing close contact (less than six feet) with other people.
  2. Hand hygiene — frequent washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer.
  3. Cohorts — conducting all activities in small groups that remain together over time with minimal mixing of groups.
  4. Protective equipment — use of face shields, face coverings, and barriers.
  5. Environmental cleaning and disinfection — especially of high-touch surfaces.
  6. Isolation of sick people and quarantine of exposed people.
  7. With the above considerations foremost, outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities.

I know there will be many questions ahead about what the 2020-21 school year will look like. The uncertainty is caused by the virus, which we will be living with until a vaccine is widely available.

The key takeaway from today’s announcement: Regardless of what plan each school district ends up adopting, this is a constantly evolving situation that should be responsive to local community input and focuses on public health through physical distancing and proper hygiene.

I encourage you to check out all the details and, if you can, participate in this community-driven process in your community.

ODE Reentry Tool

Healthy Schools Reopening Council

Governor Brown also announced she will be convening a Healthy Schools Reopening Council to advise her and ODE during the Ready Schools, Safe Learners K-12 schools reopening process. The council will look to ensure all community voices – especially those representing school employees and Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color – have a forum to give feedback as school districts develop their plans for a safe return to school for Oregon’s students and educators.

The council, which will meet over the next several months as districts develop their plans, and periodically during the school year, will be charged with:

  • Giving feedback on equitable policies and practices for a safe return to school.
  • Informing additional guidance from ODE developed over the summer to help school districts implement their back-to-school plans.
  • Receiving updates on school district plans and implementation.
  • Reviewing COVID-19 status reports and evaluating outbreak management during the school year.

The council will include elected officials, education community representatives, health representatives, and members of the public, with a focus on ensuring that a wide and diverse range of community voices are represented. A full roster of council members will be available prior to the council’s first meeting this month.

The Latest News

  • Multnomah County is hoping to be approved for Phase 1 Reopening on Friday. They provided a status update today, which Willamette Week covered here, including the issue of racial disparity in county testing. County Chair Deborah Kafoury said experts in the county health department are satisfied there is sufficient hospital capacity, personal protective equipment, and other necessary elements to reopen. An OHA decision could come tomorrow.
  • Oregon Public Broadcasting has a detailed breakdown of where coronavirus cases have been rising here.
  • The Oregon Health Authority reported 72 more confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 4,907 confirmed cases. There are 5,060 confirmed and presumptive cases combined. There have been no additional deaths from coronavirus announced today, meaning there have still been 169 confirmed deaths in Oregon from coronavirus.

OHA COVID-19 Update 6-10-2020

OHA Hospital Capacity 6-10-2020

DMV Update

Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services (DMV) has approved three new drive testing sites to perform drive tests for first-time licenses. In addition to the testing locations in the Portland metro area and Willamette Valley, the DMV now has additional testing sites in Coos Bay, Bend, and Ontario. More testing site locations will open soon. You can also find out more information about the DMV’s third party testers here.

To make an appointment at the DMV, the online form can be found here.

Additionally, the Oregon law enforcement citation moratorium for expired driver licenses, permits, ID cards, and vehicle registration has been extended through October 1st. The grace period is intended to allow Oregon residents to continue driving while they are waiting for an appointment and DMV works through the backlog due to COVID-19 restrictions. Law enforcement can verify the status of a driver or vehicle electronically during a traffic stop. You can read the information here.

Fight Coronavirus Stigma

The things we say to others, and the way we say them, always matter. When negative stereotypes about entire communities of people are perpetuated by others, there are very real health consequences – people will be less likely to seek medical care and speak openly about things they may be experiencing.

Coronavirus does not discriminate. Your race, ethnicity, or nationality is not a factor in getting or spreading disease. In order to successfully fight diseases like COVID-19, we need everyone to feel welcome, heard, and safe when seeking medical care.

Here are recommendations on how to fight coronavirus stigma.

Fight COVID Stigma

To read past newsletters, you can go to this link. For up to date information, please check this link to the Oregon Health Authority where regular updates are posted:

Please email me at if you have specific concerns that have not been addressed by the OHA. Our office will do all we can to help and protect all Oregonians.

Thank you for reading! We will get through this together.



Tina Kotek

State Representative
House District 44
Speaker of the House

email: I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301