Updated School Metrics, Wildfire Updates, Scam Alerts & More


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-413, Salem Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
Email: sen.floydprozanski@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski
e-Bulletin                     November 2020

If you're having trouble viewing this message, please visit my legislative web page at http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/prozanski/, click on "News" in the lower left-hand column and scroll down.

Dear friends,

    The results aside, Oregon saw record voter turnout this week. That — if nothing else — is reason to celebrate! Our state's safe and established vote-by-mail system was once again a model for the nation. Official Oregon election results can be found at https://results.oregonvotes.gov.

    Oregon has recorded new daily highs of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, largely attributable to small group gatherings. While the election has distracted some people from the reality of this pandemic, please be vigilant in practicing social distancing and wearing a mask, and seriously consider limiting in-person holiday gatherings to  members of your household.

    Experts warn that we are about to experience a second wave of infections (if we aren't already). This is especially dangerous as we enter the rainy and holiday seasons when people are used to celebrating indoors with groups. While it may seem strange, you might consider hosting a "virtual Thanksgiving." Here are a few tips to make such a gathering a success (the ideas can apply to other holidays, as well).  Until a vaccine is available, we must follow science and do everything possible to limit transmission of COVID-19. It's our "new normal" whether we like it or not.

    Last week, I visited Senate District 4 communities impacted by the Archie Creek and Holiday Farm Fires. In Douglas County, I sat down with Douglas Forest Protective Association District Manager Pat Skrip to discuss how the state can continue to support recovery and better prepare for future catastrophic wildfires. I then visited Glide to meet with Abbie Malek and other volunteer members of Douglas County Strong, tour the fire zone and attend a town hall for individuals and families impacted by the fires. Up the McKenzie River, I met with McKenzie School District Superintendent Lane Tompkins to discuss ongoing challenges and funding needs for our students and educators. I also met with residents and visited the McKenzie River Discover Center where one of three relief centers has been established. It was wonderful to see neighbors helping neighbors.

    Below you will find information on:

- Updated School Reopening Metrics
        - Emergency Board Approves Funding for Wildfire Recovery
        - Wildfire Recovery Updates
        - Oregon Insurance Commissioner Hosts Virtual Wildfire Town Hall
        - How to Appeal a FEMA Disaster Assistance Decision
        - Scam Alert: Avoid Wildfire Recovery Scams
        - Scam Alert: Beware of the Apple Support Scam
        - Beltline/Delta Interchange Project Travel Impacts
        - Lowell Receives State Funding Award for Downtown Improvements
    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

Updated School Reopening Metrics

    The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released updated metrics for students returning to in-person instruction. These updated metrics are based on data from school districts across the country that have become available since Oregon first issued school metrics in August, in consultation with Governor Brown's Healthy Schools Reopening Council and the Governor's Medical Advisory Panel.

Key Changes to Metrics

    It is clear that COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and most Oregon students have not been able to learn in a classroom since last March. In-person instruction is critical not only for students’ educational success, but also for their health and well-being. In communities that meet the new metrics for COVID-19 spread, additional students will be able to return to the classroom, with schools adhering to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners health and safety protocols established by ODE and OHA to mitigate infection risks. However, in many communities across Oregon, more work must be done to contain the spread of this disease before students will be able to return to the classroom.

  • Measurement period, two-week average County metrics will be measured for one, two-week period instead of three one-week periods. Particularly in small counties with low case counts, a small change in the number of cases in one week could have prevented schools from opening under the previous metrics.

  • Remove statewide positivity metric  Holding all districts to a statewide positivity metric has led some schools to remain closed even when community metrics are at safer levels. Now, only a county's positivity rate will be used.

  • Elementary School (K-6)  Elementary schools provide the best opportunity for maintaining small cohorts. This group of students also has the most difficulty with comprehensive distance learning and individual study — young students are still learning to read, and can still have difficulty reading to learn. Under previous metrics, only K-3 students were allowed to return to school first, meaning that elementary schools could reopen in some districts but fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders could not return to their school. Under new guidance, OHA and ODE have determined that students in grades K-6 can return so long as strict protocols are followed and with consultation with local public health.

  • New metrics for in-person instruction  A full guidance document from ODE explaining the new metrics for in-person instruction is available below.

  • Local decision-making  No metrics can account for all situations, particularly in a state as large and diverse as Oregon. In addition, school districts need time to plan to shift from distance learning to in-person instruction, or back if necessary. Under the new school metrics, school districts, in consultation with local public health, will make final decisions about when schools can move to in-person instruction. ODE and OHA will advise school districts during that process, and will confirm with school districts when their county has satisfied the required metrics for the return to in-person instruction. ODE, OHA, and Oregon OSHA will work together to ensure that school districts are meeting state standards for reducing risk of transmission of COVID-19 in learning and working environment for students and staff.

    ODE has released an update to its Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance today, which will include updated details about the health and safety protocols schools must have in place to return to in-person instruction.

Emergency Board Approves Funding for Wildfire Recovery

    The Joint Legislative Emergency Board has allocated more than $390 million in funds toward wildfire recovery and an emergency alert system. The E-Board also delivered funds to support shelters and increase capacity in preparation for low temperatures.

    Funding approved by the E-Board includes:

  • $30 million for Project Turnkey Supports shelter services through the conversion of hotel and motel properties into safe and warm shelter spaces. Provides funding for 500 units in wildfire-affected areas.
  • $10 million for Shelter Support Allocates funding to the Housing and Community Services Department to support the provision of shelter and related services. Prioritizes funding for communities impacted by wildfires.
  • $7.4 million in Support for Wildfire Impacted Schools Directs funding through the Oregon Department of Education to mitigate the cost of damages caused by wildfires to schools.
  • $1.4 million for a Statewide Alert System Funds the procurement of a statewide emergency communication system.
  • $345.7 million for Wildfire Debris Removal Provides $50 million to begin ash and debris removal in wildfire affected areas. Allocates $295.7 million from the State Highway Fund to ODOT for removal of hazard trees.

Wildfire Recovery Updates

  • Lane County's External Outreach Center closed on October 31.

  • The deadline for Oregonians affected by the wildfires to submit an application for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has been extended through Friday, November 27.
    • DUA provides a safety net for those whose employment was directly impacted by the September wildfires, and who are not already eligible for another unemployment program.
    • Applicants must be in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, or Marion counties
    • Visit https://oregon.gov/employ/disaster to find the application, instructions, answer to frequently asked questions, and more.

  • There's still time to apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance. The deadline is November 16, 2020. More information is available online at https://www.disasterassistance.gov or by phone at 1-800-621-3362.

Oregon Insurance Commissioner Hosts Virtual Wildfire Town Hall

     On November 12, Oregon's Insurance Commissioner and representatives from the Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) will answer questions about wildfire insurance, the claim process, and how the division can help. A FEMA representative will also be available to answer questions about the National Flood Insurance Program.

    Tune in to the Zoom live stream on Thursday, November 12, at 11 a.m., using this link. You can also listen to the live town hall by calling 253-215-8782 or 669-900-6833. Use Meeting ID: 992 4748 7370 and Passcode: 867128.

    DFR is gathering questions in advance. You can submit questions online and they will answer as many as possible during the town hall. You can also sign up to get an email reminder the day before the event.

    DRF's wildfire insurance page has resources and contact information to help answer many of your wildfire insurance questions.

How to Appeal a FEMA Disaster Assistance Decision

Oregonians who experienced property losses due to the wildfires may receive a letter from FEMA stating they are ineligible for assistance. As was emphasized on a FEMA virtual meeting that my staff recently participated in, this may not be the final word. If an applicant believes FEMA's decision was incorrect, they can file an appeal with FEMA.

    The first step is for applicants to read their determination letter carefully to understand why FEMA decided the application was "ineligible." Many times, it could be something as simple as providing missing documents or information.

  • Important Documents to Include with an Appeal Letter Often applicants need only to submit extra documents for FEMA to process their application. FEMA may find an applicant ineligible if the following documents are missing:
    • Insurance documents  Provide documents from your insurance company that show your policy coverage and/or settlement is not enough to make essential home repairs, provide a place to stay, or replace certain contents. FEMA cannot duplicate homeowner or renter insurance benefits.
    • Proof of occupancy  Provide documents that prove the damaged home or rental was your primary residence by supplying a copy of utility bills, driver's license, or lease.
    • Proof of ownership  Provide mortgage or insurance documents, tax receipts, or a deed. If you don't have a deed handy, contact your local or county officials about obtaining a copy.

    All appeals must be in writing. The appeal letter should explain why the applicant thinks FEMA's decision is not correct. When filing an appeal, it's important to include any documentation FEMA requests and/or that supports the appeal claim. Also, if the person writing the appeal letter is not the applicant or a member of the household, applicants must submit a signed statement that the writer is authorized to act on the behalf of the applicant.

  • How to Submit an Appeal Be sure to include a copy of the cover letter you received from FEMA when you submit your appeal documents.
    • Mail documents and your appeal letter within 60 days of receiving your determination letter to: FEMA National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055 Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
    • Fax documents to 800-827-8112.
    • To set up a FEMA online account or to upload documents online, visit https://www.disasterassistance.gov and click on "Check Your Application and Log In" and follow the directions.

    Applicants will receive a decision letter within 90 days of FEMA's receipt of appeal. Those who need help understanding their letter can call FEMA at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Those who use a Relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their assigned number for that service. They should be aware phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.

Scam Alert: Avoid Wildfire Recovery Scams

    Oregon's Attorney General is advising the public to be aware of potential scams related to wildfire recovery.

  • Avoid Clean-Up, Repair and Insurance Scams.
    • Be skeptical of anyone promising immediate clean-up and debris removal. Some may quote outrageous prices, demand payment upfront.
    • Research contractors. Visit https://www.ccb.state.or.us/search/ to verify the contractor has an active license, check their complaint history and references, and carefully review written notices and contracts from your contractor.
    • Do not trust any promises that are not in writing.
    • Never pay by wire transfer, gift card, cash, or by signing over an insurance check. And never make the final payment until the work is done and you are satisfied.
    • Do not give in to pressure. If you are feeling pressure from your insurance company to settle, or if you feel like you are not making progress with your claim, call the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation at 1-888-877-4894.

  • Watch Out for Imposters.
    • Guard your personal information. Only scammers will say they are a government official and then demand money or your credit card, bank account, or Social Security number.
    • Know that federal and state agencies do not charge application fees. If someone wants money to help you qualify for FEMA funds, that is a scam.
    • Avoid disaster-related charity scams. Scammers will often try to make a quick profit from the misfortune of others. Check out the Oregon Department of Justice’s advice on donating wisely online at www.oregonconsumer.gov.
    • Spot rental-listing scams. Steer clear of people who tell you to wire money or ask for security deposits or rent before you’ve met or signed a lease.

Scam Alert: Beware of the Apple Support Scam

    The Attorney General is also warning Oregonians to hang up on unsolicited phone calls that sound like they are from Apple. The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) has received reports of scammers spoofing or impersonating Apple Support. Callers who answer the call hear someone say that they are with Apple iCloud Security and that their personal information has been compromised that's when the scammer goes after your information, asking for your Apple ID password, iCloud credentials or verification codes.

    For more information on how to avoid these kinds of "phishing" phone scams, download DOJ's "Just Hang Up!" one-pager. If you have been a victim of the Apple Support scam, please file a complaint with DOJ online at https://www.oregonconsumer.gov or call the Oregon Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at (877) 877-9392.

Beltline/Delta Interchange Project Travel Impacts

    ODOT's Beltline/Delta Interchange Project means lane and ramp closures this month. ODOT and Hamilton Construction have been working to address the interchange's outdated design with mobility and safety improvements. In order to keep on schedule, budget, and make as much progress possible before the needed winter rains arrive, ODOT says the project requires nighttime and daytime lane and ramp closures. The agency anticipates temporary increased traffic congestion during these periods.

    The upcoming closures are (schedules are weather dependent and may shift based on forecasts):

  • 10-day West Side Lane Reductions and Crossover  Crews have closed the outside Delta northbound travel lane and have shifted traffic to the east side to build up the roadway for the future new intersection. At 9 p.m. each day, crews will require complete closure of northbound and southbound lanes just south of Beltline to complete the shift of traffic lanes to the highway's east side, providing one travel lane in each direction. The roadway will reopen to traffic at 5 a.m. with this single lane crossover configuration. This new layout will remain in place until November 13 (10 p.m.). Expect increased traffic.

  • 12-Day East Side Lane Reductions and Crossover Beginning Friday, November 13 (10 p.m.), to Wednesday, November 25 (6 a.m.), all northbound and southbound traffic will shift over to the west side of Delta Highway with one lane in each direction, for crews to finish the roadway build up for the future new intersection. Expect increased traffic.

  • 3-Day Weekend Ramp Closure Beltline Highway to Delta Highway Also on Friday, November 13 (10 p.m.), until Monday, November 16 (6 a.m.), crews will require closure of the eastbound Beltline Highway ramp to northbound Delta Highway to build up the roadway to match the new section on Delta Highway. Detour signs will guide travelers.

Lowell Receives State Funding Award for Downtown Improvements

    The City of Lowell has been awarded special state funding for downtown paving and waterline improvements. According to Lowell's interim city administrator, this award will enable the city to move forward with implementation of its Downtown Master Plan, replacing old water line infrastructure and improving pedestrian safety for the city. The project will include reconstruction of Main Street from Pioneer Street to Moss Street and Lakeview Avenue from Pioneer Street to Moss Street.


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