January 14, 2022 Superintendent Update

Dear Coos Bay Schools Community,

With the recent surge in COVID cases in our community, due to the Omicron variant, there has been concern about keeping schools open. Although we have seen an uptick in staff and student cases, we have not hit a critical point where we would consider the move to distance learning.

This school year, the Oregon Department of Education has placed a priority on keeping our students in-person. The old metrics that we once used to make decisions about closures are no longer in use. While the rise in cases in our state and community is alarming, we are still not seeing significant spread within our schools. The safety protocols that we have implemented throughout this pandemic have shown to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus in our schools. We currently have 35 known positive cases within our district. We currently have over 200 students in short term quarantine due to exposures. Many of those exposures are happening in our community. Some are happening in individual classrooms, but no spread is happening across cohorts in our schools.

While the number 200 may seem high, it represents approximately 8% of our student population. Schools and districts who are moving to remote learning are seeing over 25% of their students and staff out with illness. They are going remote mostly because they just don’t have the staff to keep their buildings open. We have a handful of staff across the district currently out, but that number is less than 2%. We have been able to cover classes and ensure that our students are able to continue to attend in-person. It has not been easy. Our staff are working extremely hard to cover classes as well as work with those students being quarantined.

This afternoon, the Oregon Health Authority has issued new guidance that will allow us to more easily track our exposures and ensure we are doing all we can to limit the spread within our schools. As always, the major strategies of vaccinations, wearing masks, hand washing, and social distancing when possible remain our best defense. I truly appreciate all of the extra hard work that everyone is doing to keep our doors open for those students wanting in-person instruction. I also want to recognize those of you who are working hard to support our families who prefer to stay home and do online instruction. Your efforts are important to a segment of our population and are ensuring that all of our students have quality instruction.

I hope you all have a great extended weekend! Allow yourself to disconnect from the grind for a bit. Getting outside, curling up with a good book, or binging a good Netflix series all sound good right now.

Bryan Trendell

Coos Bay Public Schools