Gov. Kate Brown announced schools will stay closed through the end of the academic year at a Wednesday press conference.
Gov. Kate Brown announced schools will stay closed through the end of the academic year at a Wednesday press conference. oregon public health division

Oregon K-12 public schools will stay closed for the remainder of the school year.

Gov. Kate Brown first closed schools because of COVID-19 on March 12. That initial closure was intended only to last through March; a few days later, she extended the closures through April 28.

At a press conference Wednesday, Brown said the decision to close schools for the rest of the academic year was intended to "give everyone certainty" amid the unpredictable circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, and allow the state to "invest time and resources” in remote learning tools.

“It is impossible to adhere to social distancing guidelines in classrooms and schools," she added. "Oregon’s education workforce is typically older, and potentially more vulnerable to COVID-19.”

A plan from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) will ensure that all current high school seniors who were on track to graduate receive passing grades in their classes. Brown asked school districts to find "creative ways" to help struggling seniors improve their grades and graduate this year. Students will have until August 31 to pass their classes.

Oregon public universities will not penalize incoming freshmen for any instruction they may have missed because of COVID-19.

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Representatives from ODE said that school districts are using different ways to continue education during the COVID-19 crisis. Those tools include both online classes and allowing students to take proficiency tests to pass classes. Some school districts are also providing emergency childcare for children of essential workers.

The Oregon State Legislature passed a $2 billion school funding bill last year, meant to allow school districts to hire more staff members. Brown said her office has "directed school districts to put those plans on ice" given the uncertainty of school closures and the economic impact of COVID-19.

You can watch the entire press conference here.