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VALE – Malheur County schools are seeing little demand for free child care they have been directed by Gov. Kate Brown to provide to first responders and health care workers.
Gov. Kate Brown issued an order on Thursday, March 12, closing all school districts until the end of March. The closure was then extended to run through April 28.
The order mandates that schools will continue to receive state funding if they perform certain tasks.
Providing child care to emergency management personnel such as emergency workers and healthcare professionals is one task outlined for schools in Brown’s order.
Here’s the situation with area schools:
Darren Johnson, Nyssa School District superintendent said that his district has advertised that it can provide childcare under the governor’s orders, but currently hasn’t had requests.
Johnson said that childcare would be provided by instructional assistants, and that the district has one classroom assigned for the purpose.
The district could open additional rooms to accommodate child care needs if parents start taking advantage of the service, Johnson said.
“Students in this area will be doing a combination of academic work, outside activities, learning activities/projects, and receiving help on online school work assigned by teachers,” Johnson said of the district’s coronavirus child care program for emergency workers.
Nicole Albisu, the Ontario School District superintendent, said that the district planned to apply to the state for child care to the Oregon Department of Education on Friday.
“I know that Giggles & Grace is setting up shop within St. Al’s to serve in this capacity,” Albisu said. “It is unsure at this time if our local health agencies will need to utilize this from us or not.”
She was referring to Saint Alphonsus Medical Center Ontario.
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Malheur Education Service District
Mark Redmond, ESD superintendent, said the district is setting up a classroom for the children of emergency workers, nurses and doctors, which would be housed at the ESD’s Early Intervention building in Ontario at 2925 S.W. Sixth Ave., adjacent to Canyon Village Shopping Center.
The child care services would accommodate 10 children, however, Redmond said it was still unclear if state rules referring to 10 means only children of ithe count is to include a teacher and instructional assistant.
“In my view, I think it needs to be a teacher, an instructional assistant and then eight children,” Redmond said.
In addition to emergency child care, other tasks that schools are mandated to perform during the coronavirus closure include:
1) Providing supplementary education and learning to students.
2) Continuing to provide meals to students.
3)Ensuring that high school seniors graduate on time.
The state’s Early Learning Division began recruiting existing and former members of Oregon’s early care and education workforce to help staff schools that are providing emergency child care. The agency also is recruiting caregivers who are willing to provide care in the homes of children of medical personnel, first responders and other essential staff.
The Enterprise reached out to the Vale, Adrian, and Jordan Valley School Districts, but has yet to hear back.
This story will be updated as new information comes in.
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