REA’s Statement RE: Aug. 12 Redmond School Board Meeting

August 13, 2020

RE: RSD Board’s Committee to Change Metrics for Reopening RSD Schools

Redmond Education Association’s Statement:

On August 12, 2020, the Redmond School Board approved a motion to create a committee that will work towards reopening schools before the metrics for safely reopening schools in Deschutes County have been met.  According to board discussion, the committee will explore, research, and gather information to pressure Oregon’s government to change the metrics for our district’s schools, separate from the metrics for Deschutes County.  

Our union recognizes the hardships our students and families are experiencing during these unprecedented times.  As educators, we value, support, and deeply care about our student populations.  We also believe that in-person education is best practice for our students and educators.  It is necessary to state that we believe the safety of our students, their families, the community, and our staff is a top priority during a global pandemic.  We have seen the results of in-person education as schools across the nation begin to open schools and subsequently close them due to infection and quarantine.  This virus does not discriminate, and while Redmond’s infection rate is not as high as other areas in Oregon, the metrics have been created to prevent mass transmission and infection of our population’s most vulnerable citizens.  

The metrics created for reopening schools safely were established in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority, including medical professionals and experts in epidemiology and education, and using researched and established data regarding infection and transmission of this novel virus.  The metrics for reopening schools are not designed in politics; they are designed and supported by research and expertise.  Our union supports these metrics as they are based in real numbers, especially during a time of heightened emotions.  These metrics will help to limit the infection and spread of this virus within our schools, resulting in a safer and sustainable reopening when possible.  A committee formed to challenge these metrics goes against the priority to keep everyone involved safe.  

Protecting our students, families, community members, and staff will not be easy.  Distance learning is not a replacement for in-person education; however, our teachers are working tirelessly, even in these summer months, to make sure our students can receive the best education we can provide given our circumstances.  We absolutely want to be back in the classroom with our students, but we must make sure this can be done safely.  It would be tragic to lose a student, community member, or staff member to this virus because we prematurely opened schools.  We love our students, and we care about our community of Redmond. Pushing for a change in our metrics to undermine current health guidelines is not how we protect the health and safety of our community. Together, we can work towards eliminating the spread of this virus in our county by following guidelines to prevent spread, and together we can meet the current metrics for reopening schools safely.  

The Redmond Education Association