School is back in session at Coquille Junior and Senior High School after COVID-19 shut them down in September.
In person learning stopped two weeks ago when the virus spread through the school making it unsafe for students to attend, according to the district.
But after a school board meeting on Thursday, it was decided students would return on Tuesday, October 5.
“We’re very excited to get going again. Kids need to be in school,” said Coquille Assistant Principal Jeff Philley.
The re-opening comes with five basic conditions:
There will be a new weekly, optional COVID test, an optional student vaccine clinic will be offered at the hospital and there will be a “test to stay” so that students who have been exposed to COVID-19 can remain in school if they test negative.
And the school district will slow down COVID-19 related transfers to alternative high school Winter Lakes.
“The alternative high school isn’t really for COVID-19 so we want to limit those kids requesting to go there due strictly to COVID considerations” said Philley.
Outside of school hours, the district is encouraging parents to transport their children to school related events, such as athletics, “because buses create close quarters” said Philley.
The schools are also short on bus drivers.
“Parents may transport student athletes to events, their child or another child, if they have permission. There just aren’t enough bus drivers,” said Armond Ruiz from Coquille High School.
Finally, the school is asking everyone with school aged children to be cognizant to limit large gatherings while COVID-19 rules are in place.
The school board upon hearing the plan voted unanimously to re-open the schools and to support the conditions, except for one.
Initially, the school district had suggested an optional vaccination clinic be located on campus, but board member Heather Echavarria objected strongly.
“I don’t want this to be on our campus. Why not give out vouchers or encourage students to go to the vaccination clinic that’s already available?” she asked.
The district agreed to change their recommendation and support on offsite clinic at the hospital.
For students and parents who don’t wish to comply with optional testing, mask mandates and other elements of the plan, the board confirmed students could use an at home online learning program called Odesseyware, which numerous school districts use for students who cannot or prefer not to attend in person classes.
However, the Coquille School District is hoping most of their students return to school and stay on campus for the rest of the year.
“We don’t intend on closing again,” said Philley when asked if these measures will be adequate to keep the COVID numbers in check.
Coos Health & Wellness reports every school district in the county has been impacted by COVID.