MEDFORD, Ore. – With many families looking for child care and learning solutions this fall, state agencies are urging residents to put safety first. In a press release Friday, the Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said, “Multi-family learning groups may slow the process of returning to school by creating more opportunities for spread among students and families.”
Many families have told NBC5 News they are considering creating co-ops or pods to support their students’ learning. Former teachers are also offering their assistance in either homeschooling endeavors or leading small cohorts of children.
“We understand this is a difficult time for families, and they are making really difficult decisions to balance their kids’ care and responsibilities. We are asking people to prioritize safety when they think of making those choices,” stated Melanie Mesaros, of the Early Learning Division.
The ELD is identifying learning and child care arrangements that must follow the state’s COVID-19 safety and health practices:
- Programs serving children from infancy through age 12; and
- Programs serving school-age children that take the place of a parent’s care; and
- Programs providing services to more than three children who are not related to the caregiver.
ELD states programs that fit the criteria can be regulated by their department. The Division says there are options for families in need of child care during the pandemic and while schools remain closed, including ‘Employment Related Daycare Assistance’. You can find out more on what options are available to you on the Early Learning Division’s website. Parents and caregivers can also call #211 for assistance finding a provider.
The Oregon Health Authority is urging people to continue safety precautions, limiting or avoiding gatherings, and wearing face coverings when outside the home. In regards to multi-family arrangements, Director Gill went on to say, “These groups also risk leaving out students who are already underserved by our school system. I deeply hope that as students and parents grapple with multi-family learning, they take into account the health and equity implications of these gatherings.”