Gov. Brown directs more schools be on track for in-person school by Feb. 15

Previously mandatory state guidance on when schools can return to in-person learning is now advisory only, and decisions on whether to return to in-person schooling will now be made at the local level.

On Dec. 23, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the long term benefits of heading off an emerging mental health and academic crisis for students far outweighs the short-term risk of reopening schools. She asked that more schools be on track to safely reopen by Feb. 15.

Previous mandatory guidance about meeting county-level test positivity rates and COVID-19 case counts before going to in-person learning are now advisory.

Schools with under 250 students were eligible to open at the beginning of the school year, and all such schools in Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties did so in the early weeks of fall.

  • Schools in Sherman and Gilliam counties are continuing in-person learning when classes resume today, Jan. 4.
  • Dufur School will be in distance learning this week; next week, pre-schoolers return to in-person learning; on Jan. 19, schoolwide hybrid on-site learning will begin.
  • South Wasco County School District (Maupin) is starting this week with comprehensive distance learning; on Jan. 11, grades kindergarten through eighth graders will be in-person; Jan. 19 all students will be in-person.
  • North Wasco County School District 21 in The Dalles, the largest and only school district in Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties to stay in distance learning this school year, will give an update on its plans the week of Jan. 19.

District 21 Interim Superintendent Theresa Peters said that will give the district time to absorb new guidance due from the state by Jan. 19. The district will also gather input from parents and staff.

Among other factors to consider, Peters said, is when educators can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Brown has added educators to the groups that are prioritized to get the vaccine first.

Brown also asked the Oregon Health Authority to partner with schools to provide on-site rapid testing. The Legislature also approved $50 million to support schools moving to in-person school, and provided reasonable COVID liability protection for schools for the remainder of the pandemic.

Brown said that schools that follow safety protocols have not proven to be sites of COVID spread.

For more information, see Brown’s press release here: brown-directs-state-agencies-to-put-more-oregon-schools-on-track-to-return-to-in-person-instruction-by- february-15-2021?e=d70728fe24

(For more information, please visit Brown’s COVID-19 information page at or contact North Central Public Health District at (541) 506- 2600 or visit us on the web at or