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Brown closes Oregon schools through April 28

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday announced she is extending the closure of the state's schools four weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, keeping the doors shut until April 28.

PORTLAND — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday extended the school closure in the state to April 28, four weeks past the March 31 closure she had implemented last week, in the latest move to combat the coronavirus.

In the press release from the governor's office, Brown also gave "further guidance for Oregon's public schools."

The executive order Brown signed Tuesday afternoon putting the extended closure in effect calls for school districts to "provide learning supports and supplemental services to students and families during the closure period, including meals and child care," as well as delivery of food assistance and offering child care "for essential health professionals and first responders."

Brown ordered districts to pay all their regular employees during the now six-week closure.

The first closure, which Brown announced last week, was to run from March 16 to at least March 31.

Brown signed two additional executive orders, including the closure of restaurants — except for drive-through, carry-out or delivery — and the ban limiting gatherings to no more than 25 people. The orders are in effect until April 14.

Carter Wells, superintendent of the Union School District, said he anticipated the governor's move.

"To be honest with you, after we heard the word of restaurants and those kind of places being forced to do take-out only, when we read that and discussed that, we started to put two and two together and expected the April 1 (return) day would get extended," he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Union, La Grande and Elgin superintendents all shared letters outlying their plans for moving forward with educating students during the next six weeks.

School staffs will be able to return to work March 30 and will be planning the transition to “at-home learning” and how to get information to the students. “Teachers will prepare digital and physical learning packets as well as online curriculum links and resources,” the letters from La Grande and Elgin both stated.

The schools also will provide sack breakfasts and/or lunches for free during the duration of the closure once spring break ends, though the service windows vary. La Grande will provide lunches from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily at its elementary schools. Elgin is providing breakfast and lunch from 8 a.m. to noon. Union is asking for parents to call the school to request a sack lunch.

Wells noted that one of his original questions following the extension of the closure has been answered, in that the “at-home” teaching will meet the required hours for students to complete the school year, or the hours will be adjusted.

This story has been and will be updated.

East Region Sports Editor

Ronald's primary beats are Eastern Oregon University, La Grande High School and the other eight high schools of Union and Wallowa counties. As an avid sports fan, he is primarily reading about or watching sports when he isn't covering a game.

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