SOME OREGON STUDENTS CAN RETURN TO CLASS: Oregon kids and parents are preparing for distance learning this fall, with few signs that a return to classrooms is imminent. In the past week, the most high-profile symbols of student life—high school and college football—surrendered to the pandemic, with the Oregon School Activities Association and the Pac-12 both delaying their fall sports seasons until spring. But a few kids may be allowed to return to class. The Oregon Department of Education released new school guidelines Aug. 11 that will allow in-person classes for students with disabilities, English language learners, and students in career technical education even as the pandemic continues. The new guidelines also allow small districts and schools located in rural areas more latitude to open fully, by working with their local public health authority. "We all want to get our students back in school as quickly as possible," said Gov. Kate Brown. "What's so key, though, is we all work to make sure our children and teachers and staff are safe."
LAKE OSWEGO RIFT WIDENS: On Aug. 4, after a story went national about a Lake Oswego resident urging a neighbor to take down signs supporting Black Lives Matter, Lake Oswego city manager Martha Bennett hurriedly issued a statement on the city's behalf: "The city of Lake Oswego is committed to making Lake Oswego a welcoming community for everyone." That statement displeased John LaMotte, a city councilor running for mayor in November. "Why was this sent to press???," LaMotte wrote to Bennett in an Aug. 5 email obtained by WW. "Why the rush to judgment?" LaMotte says he was not upset by the content of the statement but because the LO council had recently approved a policy giving councilors 12 hours to review statements before release. "The message was just fine," LaMotte says. "I'm just a stickler for protocol."
PROSPER PLANS TO EXTEND DIRECTOR'S SEVERANCE: On Aug. 12, the board of Prosper Portland, the city's economic development agency, proposes to extend the time horizon during which director Kimberly Branam would be eligible for severance if dismissed. When Branam was hired in August 2016, her offer provided for six months' severance if she got fired within three years. (Branam, like all city bureau directors, is an at-will employee, meaning she can be fired at any time.) Now she would automatically get severance if she's fired—no matter when it happens. The city's policy of giving bureau chiefs big severance payments generated controversy in 2017, after heavy turnover at the top of bureaus following the election of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Mayor Ted Wheeler. A city spokeswoman said Wheeler's office had no information about the proposed change. Prosper board chair Gustavo Cruz Jr. says says the board is "very happy" with Branam and is making the change to bring her into parity with other bureau directors.
COVID HITS THE CLUB: Oregon health officials have traced a small outbreak of COVID-19 to a Portland strip club. Spyce Gentlemen's Club in Old Town has been linked to five cases of the virus. The first infection traced to the club was diagnosed on July 16, state records say. Spyce had closed the day before, but announced a reopening kickoff party for July 31: "Masks on, clothes off!!!" It then canceled the party, and owner Matt Doss says he's adding new safety precautions. The outbreak at Spyce appears to be Oregon's first cluster of COVID-19 infections traced to a strip club. The largest outbreaks continue to be traced to prisons, food processing plants and shipping warehouses. Hermiston frozen potato packer Lamb Weston has 167 cases; an Amazon warehouse in Troutdale now has 48.
HEALTHY TURNOUT SEEN FOR SPECIAL ELECTION: The special election to replace late Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish drew strong voter turnout. The race to succeed Fish—between Loretta Smith and Dan Ryan—was the only item on the ballot. As of late morning Aug. 11, 33% of registered voters in the city had returned their ballots, a somewhat surprisingly strong showing for an off-cycle special election in the middle of a chaotic summer. Read the results at wweek.com.