School Reopening Metrics, Employment Department Updates & More

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Representative Smith Warner


Today marks the historical March on Washington that occurred 57 years ago. As we look back at the progress we have made as a country, it is important to recognize where we have fallen short to address the systemic injustices that have been perpetuated against communities of color. I hear your calls for action and I am committed to use my role as a legislator to do just that. We have a responsibility to do what is right and I am committed to working with community members, my colleagues in the Black, Indigenous and People of Color Caucus and our congressional partners to rewrite past wrongs and answer long overdue calls for change. 


Oregon Health Authority Update

The Oregon Health authority reports up-to-date information regarding testing statistics that can be found on their website. You can review the daily update and read the weekly report that details the overall picture of the COVID-19 response across Oregon. Here are some recent developments from OHA:

  • The Oregon Health Authority weekly report  showed a 13% drop in daily cases for the week of Aug. 16 to Aug. 23.The rate of positive tests also declined to 5.1% from 5.4% Keep up the good work!

  • As of August 22, Oregon’s cumulative positive testing rate is 4.5 percent of people tested. This is considerably lower than the national average of 9 percent. Of the 24,177 people tested the week of Aug. 16-22, 1,233 (5.1%) were positive. The total for that week is likely to rise as test results continue to be reported to OHA. It is reassuring that test positivity is relatively stable, which suggests that the number of people newly infected with COVID-19 each week is no longer increasing rapidly.

  • The age group most affected by the virus remains 20-29, although the elderly remain the hardest hit age group. COVID-19 hospitalization and death rates increase with age; almost half of the 420 deaths have been among persons 80 or older, and 75% in persons 70 and older.
  • Free COVID-19 Testing for BIPOC Community Members
    Saturday, September 12, the Oregon Health Authority and Cascadia will provide free COVID-19 testing at the Garlington Health Center parking lot. Appointments will be available every 10 minutes from 12:00 – 4:00 PM, with the last hour reserved for walk-ups. Each time slot allows for one test, so you will need to register each member of your family.  

Senate Committee on Labor and Business

The Senate Committee on Labor and Business will hold remote hearings in order to review the Oregon Employment Department’s (OED) administration of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, including benefits provided under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Tuesday, September 1 at 8:00 AM
Tuesday’s informational meeting will provide an update on administration of unemployment benefits and economic impacts of COVID-19. 

Wednesday, September 2 at 8:00 AM
Wednesday’s agenda will discuss the administration of the CARES Act and provide an update on planning for the implementation of the federal and state programs going forward.

Thursday, September 3 at 8:00 AM
Thursday will be reserved for Oregonians who want to testify about their experience applying for unemployment insurance. If you are interested in testifying you can find out more information here

Employment Department Update

The employment department is working diligently to help get money into the hands of Oregonians in need. So far, the department has paid nearly four billion dollars to individuals who have filed unemployment claims. There is still a lot of  progress to be made and the department continues to work with the National Guard and hire additional adjudicators. Here is the latest information from Director David Gerstenfeld on what the department is doing to help claimants and process claims as quickly as possible.

Extra $300 Benefit Program
The Oregon Employment Department applied for the Lost Wages Assistance program, which provides $300 in unemployment benefits for 3-5 weeks. How long the funds will last for states is uncertain and it ends when funds are gone. I will provide more information on the status of this program once it becomes available.

Updated Website Information 
More resources are available on the department website to help answer questions you might have about your unemployment benefits. Remember, you can also use the Contact us form on the website instead of calling.

  •  People who need language assistance can contact the Employment Department by email at or call the language line or call 503-606-6969
  • The new website and the online PUA form is available in Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese with more languages on the way.
  • Helpful Information and updated FAQ’s for school employees

Social Service Program Updates

Employment Related Day Care (ERDC)
Families currently on ERDC and receiving a $0 copay will continue to have a $0 copay until the end of their current certification period. New ERDC families and families recertifying through September 30th will also have a $0 copay through the end of their 12-month certification period.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Oregon has been approved to issue September emergency allotments. Emergency allotments increase a households' benefit amount to the maximum allotment for their household size.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Through the current state of emergency of September 30th, TANF families will not be disqualified due to non-participation of required activities and the initial resource limit will be increased from $2,500 to $10,000.

School Reopening Metrics

The start of the school year is right around the corner and ensuring the health and safety of students remains a top priority. All school districts in Oregon will have a comprehensive distance learning model until mid-November. I share with my kids and many other families the disappointment in losing their in-person connection through our schools, but know that this and other hard decisions will lead to better times ahead for us all.

Recently, state health officials and Governor Kate Brown held a press briefing to explain what would need to happen to resume in person instruction. Here is a recap of what was discussed:

  • The state testing rate must remain at or below 5%.
  • The county must have 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days.
  • The countywide test positivity rate must be 5% or less over that same time period.

COVID-19 mitigation strategies that are under consideration to support sustainable commerce and in-person education across the state (childcare, K-12, higher-ed) include:

  • Mandatory quarantine upon entry/return to Oregon
  • Restrictions on short-term rentals and enforcement by hotels
  • Restaurants/bars restrictions – Smaller group size or family/household only 
  • Close fitness classes, indoor event venues and entertainment facilities

Portland Public Schools  and Parkrose Back-To-School Schedules
Earlier this week, PPS presented an overview of instructional schedules for the 2020-21 school year. PPS posted a number of sample instructional schedules, sorted by grade groups, on their website. For more information, visit the PPS Fall 2020 Resource Page about the web platforms and tools that students will need for the school year. 

Parkrose will begin the 2020-21 school year with Comprehensive Distance Learning beginning Monday, September 14th and will stay in Comprehensive Distance Learning until at least November 6th, the end of the first quarter. Individual student schedules will be available in StudentVue/ParentVue beginning August 31st. For more information, visit the Parkrose School District website

Oregon Cares Fund

Black individuals and families, Black businesses, and Black community-based organizations statewide can apply to receive funds to assist them in weathering the health and economic storm that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. Applications for the fund, which is being administered by two non-profits, The Contingent and The Black United Fund, are available here.

Cares Fund

Economic Injury Disaster Loans Available

Economic assistance loans are available from the federal government to help small businesses, private non-profits and agricultural businesses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) proceeds can be used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses, such as continuation of health care benefits, rent, utilities and fixed debt payments.You can learn more here.

Please reach out to my office if you have any additional questions, or if there’s anything you think I could help with. 



Representative Barbara Smith Warner
House District 45

email: I phone: 503-986-1445
address: 900 Court St NE, H-295, Salem, OR 97301