With the school year fast approaching Lake County School District #7 (LCSD#7) Supt. Michael Carter held an open house on Wednesday, Sept. 1, at both the Fremont Elementary School and Lakeview High School to discuss the upcoming school year and to answer questions.
Carter said this is a challenging time for the community with the vaccine mandates from the Governor’s Office for healthcare workers and educators.
“My number one concern is the safety of our students and staff. The vaccine mandates have caused consternation in the community and I am working hard to make sure all of our staff remain with us,” said Carter.
Earlier in the summer many school districts were preparing to make their own decisions on whether face coverings would be mandated in the classroom as the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) changed mask guidance for school districts from “required” to “strongly recommend.”
About a month before school was set to start Oregon Gov. Kate Brown made an announcement that due to an increasing level of positive COVID tests and the impact it was having on hospital capacity across the state, she would require face coverings in the classroom by both students and staff.
A couple of weeks later Brown announced that educators would need to get a COVID vaccine by Monday, Oct. 18, unless they fill out a religious exemption or medical exemption form. Many people in the community voiced their disapproval with the vaccine mandates from Brown, and a meeting was held to discuss what could be done in opposition.
Not long after the vaccine mandates came down for educators, Carter announced that he would work within the system to get the requirements changed for rural and small school districts, but so far there has been no change from the Governor’s Office. It is not known at this time whether any teachers or staff at LCSD#7 have left their positions due to the COVID vaccine mandates.
“Anyone who is entering our buildings whether they are staff, students, visitors, parents, or volunteers will be required to wear a face covering. If students are attending a school sponsored event on campus or taking a school sponsored field trip they will also need to wear face coverings. Though once students are outside they do not need to wear face coverings,” said Carter.
He said the face covering rules have been tested multiple times in multiple jurisdictions and each time the courts have upheld the face coverings requirements.
“We will take school one day at a time. I follow the rules, but I am also working at changing the rules for our community,” said Carter.
A point of emphasis to parents and students is that it will take everyone working together to get through the school year in-person and not have to go the hybrid or distance learning route. He said LCSD#7 was successful in its quarantine policies if there were COVID exposures, and that the goal for this year is to have students in school five days a week.
“It will take everyone working together to keep everyone safe. If kids are feeling sick they should stay home. If they have a fever they should definitely stay home,” said Carter.
He displayed a chart of the major symptoms of COVID and said if students are exhibiting these symptoms they should stay home; the key symptom is a fever. He said the important thing for parents to do is check the health of their children every day.
To help students he said there will be behavioral health specialists and that teachers will be learning about trauma informed care before the school year.
With a number of new teachers this year, 11 in total, Carter said it will take everyone working together to make sure the school year runs smoothly. He said the Lakeview community is the most generous community he has ever lived in.
“We need the support of our community and the parents working together to keep everyone safe and school open. We need to work together through this challenging time,” said Carter.
He ended his presentation by saying he is available if people have questions, comments or concerns about the coming school year.
For more information call 541-947-3347.