Bend La Pine School District Continues to Battle Covid-19

Recent district email assures parents and students that in-person leaning will continue despite rising covid cases


Mia Mees, Staff Writer

Rising Covid cases have caused concern among the public that schools have remained open. However the Bend La Pine school district has assured there will be no Covid Distance Learning. Though the decision to stay in person has already been made, there are still doubts if it was worth the large number of students getting infected and/or exposed to the virus. 

 In response to the ever-growing case numbers, Superintendent Steven Cook addressed concerned staff and families in an email sent out Jan 14. 

“I want to take a moment and assure you our schools remain open, with no plans to go remote at this time” wrote Cook.

“We’ve seen a spike where cases have gone from not that many to a lot,” said Summit Principal Michael McDonald, who just returned from quarantine, “from last week or the week before, we may have been in the triple digits with over 100 kids out just in summit.” These concerning quarantine numbers may leave the public to wonder how much of a risk our district is taking, and how dire the situation is, or isn’t. There isn’t a clear solution in such a complex situation, though the vast majority have concluded staying in person is the most beneficial option, regardless of Omicron’s danger to the public. Two district officials were contacted for further explanations though neither responded within press time, which is telling of how overwhelmed the district is at this time. 

Considering the substantial absences in classrooms as of recently, it’s important to take into account how quarantined students are handling such an overwhelming learning challenge. “As a teacher you walk this fine line because if too much is put on canvas, kids will start skipping work, but you gotta have enough on there for the kids being quarantined,” said Kristy Knoll, Summit’s Dean of Students and English teacher. 

Omicron has caused less fatalities compared to previous variants, this in return has created less panic to stay distanced, regardless of its increased contagiousness. “Because Omicron is less deadly we are able to stay in schools. If Omicron were to be as deadly as delta I don’t think we would be in the same situation” Knoll shares, “Summit has the highest or one of the highest vaccination rates. We know that Omicron is still affecting everybody but we also know it’s a lot less severe for people who are vaccinated” 

Additionally in the Jan 14 covid email Cook sent, it was stated that district employees would assist in substituting for absent teachers, due to the severe lack of subs in the school system. Jenny Newell, a Summit Biology and Math 9 teacher says, “It’s unfortunate and it shows that we do have a problem but I’m hoping it’s temporary and I’m trying to look at the silver lining that district employees – it doesn’t hurt to spend some time in classrooms and see first hand what it is that’s going on in classes with our students.” When compared to other schools, the demand for substitutes is lower, though there are still district employees rushing to help classes throughout Summit and other Schools. 

With speculations that Covid-19 is coming to a climax, the public is anticipating the dissolve of the pandemic and the return to normalcy. “I really think that we have to continue to work hard and remain hopeful that we’ll get through this and that maybe by the start of the 2022 school year, things will settle down,” McDonald says. With diligence, patience, and a mask over the public’s nose: social distancing, quarantine, and masks may all become an aspect of education students can leave behind.