The St. Helens School District has announced a temporary pause in in-person instruction at all the district's schools due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and a continuing shortage of teachers and substitute teachers.

School Pause

The St. Helens School District has temporarily paused in-person instruction at all of the district schools on the following days:

  • Friday, January 14, 2022
  • Monday, January 17, 2022 (Holiday)
  • Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The district has issued the following letter to families outlining the pause.

Dear St. Helens School District, Student, Staff, and Community,

We are writing to provide you with an update on the St. Helens School District’s plans for managing our current challenges with the Omicron COVID-19 variant. As you are all aware, the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant has contributed to a dramatic rise in absences of students and staff in our district.

The ability to fully staff and safely operate our schools has been a daily challenge, and one that we are struggling to maintain.

At this time the district average has surpassed 30% of our students absent with several schools over 40%. Approximately 20% of our staff are out with less than 50% of those positions being filled with substitutes.

Given this volume, we are unable to contact trace and maintain a safe and productive learning environment for our students. The new CDC and OHA 5-day quarantine guidance plus extending the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday should allow a large number of students and staff who are currently out sick or quarantined to return.

At this time, we will temporarily pause in-person instruction at all of our St. Helens Schools on the following days:

  • Friday, January 14, 2022
  • Monday, January 17, 2022 (Holiday)
  • Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Students and staff will return to in-person instruction on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 (scheduled early release day).

We understand that these decisions have a tremendous impact on our students, staff, families, and even the community. This current wave of the COVID-19 virus has placed an unprecedented strain on our school district as well as other districts across Oregon to provide in-person instruction to students. We are planning this to be a temporary pause so we can safely resume in-person instruction classes for our students.

We appreciate your flexibility and understanding during this difficult time.

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The St. Helens School District and others in Columbia County and across the state continue to follow COVID-19 pandemic health and safety recommendations issued by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC).

Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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