Student fights prompt Oregon middle school to cancel in-person classes

Nation/world

A middle school in Oregon will return to online learning this week, but not because of COVID-19. Reynolds Middle School in Fairview, Oregon, says it will cancel in-person learning for three weeks to develop safety protocols to address student fights and other inappropriate behavior.

Reynolds School District Superintendent Danna Diaz said in an e-mail that more than 18 months of classroom disruptions have “taken a toll” on students and staff in the small town east of Portland, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Wednesday.

The school returned to in-person learning this fall but that return has been interrupted by COVID-19 cases among students and staff and the resulting quarantines. Diaz says students are “struggling with socialization skills” after such turmoil and need more social and emotional support.

“The safety and security of our students, families, and staff is our highest priority,” Diaz said in her email.

Like schools across Oregon, the 9,000-student Reynolds district shuttered all of its schools in March 2020, but then reopened them to hybrid learning in spring 2021 following Gov. Kate Brown’s direction.

The school, in Fairview, is one of three middle schools in the district. It serves students from parts of Gresham, Fairview and Wood Village.

Steve Padilla, a district spokesman, said the 928-student school would be closed for in-person learning from Thursday through Dec. 9, with each grade level returning for one day of classroom instruction in that last week. The school will fully reopen on Dec. 10.

The district is acting swiftly because it doesn’t want to wait for the next incident to occur, Padilla told the newspaper, adding that no fights had involved weapons.

“We need to take care of this now,” Padilla said. “It’s urgent.”

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