U. County on 2-Week Social Gathering Pause; In-Person Instruction Stopped

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Due to rising COVID-19 cases, Gov. Kate Brown announced today that Umatilla is one of five Oregon counties that will have a two-week “pause” placed on social gatherings, from Nov. 11 through Nov. 25. Shortly after Brown’s announcement, the Hermiston School District said it would end in-person instruction and activities beginning Monday, Nov. 9 until further notice.

The new measures – which also were placed on Malheur, Marion, Multnomah and Jackson counties – do the following:

  • Urges businesses to mandate work from when possible
  • Reduce maximum restaurant capacity to 50 (both customers and staff) for indoor dining with a maximum party of six
  • Pauses long-term care facility visits
  • Reduces other indoor activity to maximum capacity to 50 people (targeting gyms, pools, bowling alleys, etc.)
  • Limits social gatherings to your household or no more than 6 people if the gathering includes non-family members

Despite ending in-person instruction, Hermiston School District staff will continue to offer evening support to families at the district office, providing help with obtaining a Chromebook or hotspot, accessing Google applications and other class programs, checking student email and teacher communications, and homework help. Families may stop by the district office Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for assistance.

On Oct. 19, the district implemented limited in-person instruction – based on educational, relational, curricular, instructional, and/or assessment needs – to students in need of personalized instruction that is difficult to teach remotely. Among those were students needing language instruction and students with specific disabilities who may benefit from targeted engagement.

Hermiston High School will also not be able to offer training, conditioning, or practices to students participating in athletics and activities.

“I am heartbroken over this turn of events,” said Superintendent Dr. Tricia Mooney. “These student interactions – teacher to student and with peers – are vital to the well-being of all involved, students and adults. Even though the district has not had any workplace or student to student virus transmissions, it is my sincere hope that with all of us doing our part, we can reduce our case count and return our students to classrooms.”

In her announcement today, Brown said more restrictions could be coming in two weeks if cases continue rising.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported a new record number of daily cases on Thursday, one of several the state has set in recent weeks.

“The two-week pause is intended to be a wake-up call or a call to action,” said OHA spokesperson Robb Cowie.

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