Baker School District advocating for students to remain with in-person school

BAKER CITY – (Release by Baker School District) Baker 5J Superintendent Mark Witty has reason to be optimistic that state officials will change their minds about requiring students to return to Comprehensive Distance Learning after the holiday break, despite the county’s high COVID-19 case count.

“State officials are listening,” said Witty. “I believe they will work with us to keep students currently receiving their education through in-person instruction in school, come January 4th.”

Current guidance in the State’s Ready Schools/Safe Learners handbook would require Baker students to return to Comprehensive Distance Learning if the current escalation of positive COVID-19 cases in Baker County persists.

Since October 14, 2020, 160 students in Baker School District have been temporarily quarantined, with 7 incidents of positive COVID-19 cases confirmed. Additionally, 52 mployees have been quarantined since July 1, 2020, 17 of which resulted from school-directed quarantines.

As of this date Baker 5J has had 6 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff members. Contact tracing has confirmed all positive cases resulted from exposure outside of the school environment.

“To date, no student or staff member has contracted COVID-19 due to being at school,” Witty said. “We are following the basic protocols: staying home when sick, wearing a mask, keeping physical distance, washing hands frequently and sanitizing surfaces regularly. These practices are proving to be successful in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 at school.”

Baker School District officials have been in communication with officials from the Oregon Department of Education and the Governor’s Office regarding the January 4th deadline.

“As a result of these communications, combined with like-results from multiple schools operating in-person throughout the state, we believe the guidance will be adjusted,” said Witty. “This adjustment would allow us to continue with the level of in-person school that we are currently offering.”

State officials have communicated that school districts should have a final answer by December 16th. Baker School District officials will communicate with staff, students and their families as soon as they receive notification from the Oregon Department of Education.

About the Baker School District

Nationally recognized Baker School District 5J (BSD) is a major employer in Baker City, OR, serving 1,700 students locally with an additional 3,000 online students across the state of Oregon. Through enterprising, collaborative endeavors, BSD is creating an innovative educational foundation for future Oregonians. BSD believes strong school collaboration with local partners enables us to create vibrant communities that support lifelong learners.