School meals

North Wasco County School District 21 nutritionists Jenna Hert and Elizabeth Diaz hand out sack lunches at Chenowith Elementary School on March 16, 2020 after schools closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hert and Diaz said the lunches were available for pickup by school-aged children in the district at Chenowith Elementary and The Dalles Middle School. Both locations served students from around the district, regardless of which school they attend, they said. The closure was extended Wednesday, March 18, 2020, through April 28.

Oregon’s K-12 schools now are closed for six weeks, through April 28.
 
Gov. Kate Brown announced the extended school closure late Tuesday, hours after talking with reporters by phone and announcing that 150 of the state’s 197 school districts had found ways to provide meals to children.
On Monday, Brown had said she was still considering whether to lengthen the current two-week-long closure. She had banned public and private gatherings of more than 25 people, which many school classrooms and hallways would violate.
“I do not take the decision to extend school closures lightly,” Brown said in a statement Tuesday. “This will have real impacts on Oregon’s students, parents, and educators. But we must act now to flatten the curve and slow the rate of COVID-19 transmission in Oregon, otherwise we face a higher strain on our medical system and greater loss of life to this disease.”
The current school closure was to end March 31. It now will last through April 28.
Brown mandated that all regular school employees continue to be paid. Previously, the Oregon Department of Education had said that was up to the individual school districts and their collective bargaining agreements with employees.
The governor also said districts must “provide learning supports and supplemental services to students and families during the closure period, including meals and child care. This includes the delivery of food assistance and offering child care for essential health care professionals and first responders.”
Brown has said she is in frequent communication with federal officials and with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has ordered that state’s schools through April 24.
The Oregon Education Association, which is the state’s largest teacher union, applauded Brown’s decision to extend the school closure and said it would safeguard the health of students and educators.
“We also commend the governor for her commitment to maintaining vital nutrition and mental health services for our students, and for directing districts to ensure all school employees are paid during these closures,” OEA President John Larson said in a statement.
In other news related to the emergency:
Earlier Tuesday, the state Department of Human Services banned almost all visitors to long-term care facilities and residential group homes. The only exceptions are for essential emergency and medical personnel and for people visiting residents who are near the end of their lives.
Large gatherings, including weddings and funerals, already have been banned under Brown’s executive orders. The rationale is that the larger the crowd, the more likely people are to come into contact with someone with coronavirus and further spread the disease known as COVID-19.
 

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