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Three Oregon schools delay start dates due to COVID

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging in Oregon at least three school districts have pushed back their start date.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the Alsea School District in Benton County was set to start Monday. But on Aug. 21, Superintendent Marc Thielman shared a message with families, announcing a delay to the school year due to an elementary staff member testing positive for COVID-19.

The first day of school will now be Aug. 30.

Two other districts, both in Douglas County, have also announced delays. Douglas County has had 1,125 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, the highest in the state. In the Oregon Health Authority’s Aug. 23 update, Douglas County reported 398 new cases and five deaths between Aug. 20 and Aug. 22.

The school year will now begin Sept. 7 for South Umpqua High School students due to staff members in isolation or quarantine. Superintendent Kate McLaughlin said the school does not have currently have enough staff to open. The district’s other schools will open on Aug. 30 as planned.

The Elkton school board, also in Douglas County, voted Monday evening to delay the start of school for three weeks “due to the current surge of COVID cases in Douglas County.” School will now begin on Sept. 20.

The total number of Oregon students affected is relatively small. The three small, rural districts serve a little more than 2000 students altogether.