Vale elementary students

Students from Vale Elementary School perform for the Vale School Board of Directors and audience members with a song about the water cycle. After the song, the students had to define evaporation, condensation and precipitation for the audience. The song was taught to the students as part of STEM week at Vale schools.

ONTARIO — As an effort to help stop the spread of COVID-19, public schools in Oregon will be shuttered starting on Monday, and their doors will remain closed until March 31, according to a mandate from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown late Thursday night.

“Schools are critical institutions that provide important services for all our students, but especially our most vulnerable, and during this crisis I have worked hard to ensure those critical services continue. So many of our families depend on school in order for parents to go to their jobs, and for students to access health care and receive nutrition assistance,” Brown said in her press release. “However, I have heard from superintendents, school board members, teachers, parents, and students that it has now become impossible to functionally operate schools due to workforce issues and student absences. Schools are experiencing critical shortages in staff, and superintendents are concerned for school personnel who are at elevated risk such as those over age 60 and those with underlying medical issues."

The school closure comes a day after Brown announced that everyone in the state of Oregon should avoid large gatherings, above 250 people. 

Also on Thursday, Ontario High School and Nyssa High School both cancelled all co-curricular activities, clubs and athletics (this includes all varsity athletic events and the state FFA conference). 

On Friday morning, Ontario School District announced via a press release that the district is meeting to identify ways that meals can still be provided to those students who need them. That information will be provided in a few days, the release states. 

Adrian School District Superintendent Kevin Purnell said the district administration will be meeting today to discuss plans for providing food options for students “that depend on our breakfast and lunch programs to meet their nutritional needs.” 

Purnell said that information will be made available later today. 

According to the release from Brown, school districts are being instructed that they will have to develop a plan for returning to school that will accommodate the ongoing impact of the coronavirus. 

Districts will also be tasked with implementing plans to continue nutrition services.

The districts will also need to ensure that all schools have adequate cleaning supplies for when school resumes.

Vale School District Superintendent Alicia McBride said she is meeting with other administrators on Friday to discuss the logistics of closing the schools for the remainder of the month. No further information was available by press time. 

Brown has scheduled teleconference for Friday at 3 p.m. (MT). The number is not currently available for the teleconference.

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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