Greater Albany Public School District has closed all schools within the district from March 13 to April 28 following a directive from Oregon Governor Kate Brown to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Originally, schools were to be closed through March 31, when Superintendent Melissa Goff notified students, staff and the community via email at 11:28 on the night of Thursday, March 12. Though Brown’s directive was set to take effect on Monday, March 16, the decision to close schools earlier was made because six more people at a Lebanon senior care facility tested positive for the virus, according to the district website.
However, the decision to extend the closure came on March 15 at 5:30 pm, also by direct order of Brown.
“This news heightened our awareness of students and staff who may have been exposed to the virus,” Goff said in the statement, “so we felt there was no other path forward than cancelling school on Friday, March 13, to protect our students and staff.”
The District will provide free lunch at several locations during the time school is out for every person aged 18 and under, regardless if they are enrolled in the Greater Albany school district.
Students will have the opportunity to get their possessions, such as textbooks, from the school from the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, March 16, as well as check out books between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. from the school library.
“Children count on the reliable routine that a school day offers, from the classroom setting to the many people at school who know them and care for them,” the statement said. “Contemplating weeks without that structure and care may seem overwhelming. Please know that we are doing our very best to make decisions that will help care for all of us through this time.”
Dozens of events were also cancelled on March 12, such as the production of Mary Poppins, the State Basketball Championships, and all events containing 250 or more people. The Financial Reality Fair was also cancelled, and Career Day had several speakers cancel or speak from an outside location.
Freshman Mason Chambers said he was very surprised when news of the cancellation was made public.
“I was talking to [Track and Field] Coach [Drew] Small, and I asked him if practice was still happening next week,” Chambers said, “and he said it probably was. And all the sports were just banning spectators, not being cancelled.”
Chambers said he found out school was being cancelled from West Albany students’ Instagram Stories the morning of March 13.
“I was like ‘no way this is happening,’ said Chambers.
Chambers also expressed concern for those taking AP courses, saying that this much time off could lead to forgetting important information.
“If you’re just taking standard classes, I think you’ll be alright,” Chambers said.
This story will be updated as new information becomes available.