NeighborImpact Head Start classrooms temporarily close following Governor Kate Brown’s announcement of school closures statewide

Redmond, OR – All Head Start classrooms and the Early Head Start program operated by NeighborImpact in Crook and Deschutes counties will close Monday. The closure is in coordination with Governor Kate Brown’s announced closure of all public schools through March 31. Head Start classrooms will resume operation on April 6, provided no new developments force an extended closure.
Head Start serves 445 low-income children and their families in the two counties. The closure crosses a previously planned Spring Break week, which will lessen the impact. “We are facing some stark realities in program operations,” noted Scott Cooper, Executive Director of NeighborImpact. “Closing our classrooms is a form of ‘social distancing’ that reduces the spread of disease. Many of our families are particularly susceptible to coronavirus, because people who lack housing or have to live in double-up situations or have less access to medical care or lack the discretionary income to buy the things that help keep people safe, you end up with more exposure. Keeping our classrooms open would only spread the virus faster.”
Cooper also noted that like businesses and individuals, Head Start classrooms are struggling to find sanitary supplies needed during the epidemic. “Hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes, as everyone knows, are being cleared off store shelves as fast as they are restocked. Our suppliers are cancelling back orders. Closing our doors for a few weeks gives us some room to catch up, and let the system adjust. “
Cooper acknowledged that closing classrooms puts a burden on some working families who may not have ready access to childcare. “There’s no way around that, and I acknowledge it, and regret it,” he said. “On the other hand, the reality of the current situation is that many of our children at the end of the day, after being potentially exposed in classrooms to a virus that is potentially lethal for elderly people, are picked up by their grandparents who serve as afternoon caregivers. We have to think about that, too.”
“In the end, this is an operational and public safety decision. Tough times call for tough decisions, and the personal health and safety of children, their families and our employees has to be a priority. We look forward to this event calming down and getting back to the core business of getting children ready for school and supporting their families.”
About NeighborImpact: Since 1985, NeighborImpact has been a leader in developing solutions and bringing resources to Crook, Jefferson, Deschutes County and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The agency offers a diversity of services meeting basic human needs for food and shelter, while enriching people’s lives by providing access to increased education, skills, and hope for the future. NeighborImpact is a private nonprofit organization that receives federal, state and local grants, foundation grants and donations from individuals and businesses in our community. To learn more about NeighborImpact please visit www.neighborimpact.org. 
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