COVID-19 school

Tillamook School District began in-person learning Sept. 7, while Neah-Kah-Nie School District and Nestucca Valley School District began with distance learning. Now, Neah-Kah-Nie School District is making plans to possibly begin a transition to in-person learning. Nestucca Valley School District plans to begin in-person learning with a staggered return schedule beginning Monday, Sept. 20, with limited in-person learning.

Tillamook School District Superintendent Curt Shelley spoke during a school board meeting Monday, Sept. 13, about COVID-19 protocols at the schools.

“I cannot tell you how excited I was in June to take these masks off,” Shelley said. I can't tell you how much more excited I was last Monday to welcome over 2,000 students into our building.”

Shelley said if you are wearing a mask correctly, you do not have to isolate if you are a close contact, unless you test positive for COVID-19 or develop symptoms.

“We have a shortage in teachers,” Shelley said.

Shelley told the Headlight Herald that since in-service in late August, the district has had 13 staff resignations, which include one certified teacher who transferred to another district and 12 classified employees. Of those 12 employees, six of them resigned as a result of vaccination requirements. The recent classified incentive, effective for one year, will increase classified salaries by 10 percent.

The school district has implemented many new things this school year, including vision screening, encouraging vaccinations, wearing masks and more.

“If we have the safety protocols in our schools, we can mitigate COVID,” Shelley said. “We do have some issues and we do have some positive cases.”

Shelley added that the district has not had a tremendous increase in cases since opening school.

Employees need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 in K-12 schools. Shelley said he understands the frustration with the governor’s mandate but employees have choice within the mandate. Employees can either be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or file a religious or medical exemption.

Due to a downward trend in test positivity in the county, Neah-Kah-Nie School District and Nestucca Valley School District are making plans to transition to in-person learning. Both districts began the school year with distance learning.

On Sept. 15, Neah-Kah-Nie School District announced in a letter to the community, that on Monday, Sept. 20, Neah-Kah-Nie School District and health officials will discuss the most current COVID-19 data and make a decision on whether to continue with distance learning or transition to in-person learning. If the district moves to in-person learning, the plan is for a Monday through Friday schedule. School administrators will continue to develop a plan to serve students who will be in quarantine.

“It is important for all of us to understand, we will be living with the virus until there is widespread immunity,” Superintendent Paul Erlebach stated. “The best tools to protect ourselves and others are vaccination, physical distancing, face coverings, ventilation, hand hygiene and staying home if exposed to someone with COVID-19.

On Sept. 15, Nestucca Valley School District announced in a letter to the community a plan to return to in-person learning. The school district asked every family to complete a survey about transportation and preferred instructional model.

The school district will be offering instruction virtually for those that do not wish to move to in-person learning yet.

Limited in-person instruction begins Sept. 20 for a handful of students that were previously contacted. On Wednesday, Sept. 22, the 6th and 7th grade students return to in-person learning. Kindergarten classes begin in person Friday, Sept. 24. On Monday, Sept. 27, 1-5th grade students will return to in-person learning. Bus transportation will begin Monday, Sept. 27.

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