ROSEBURG, Ore. – Driver's education is officially back in action at Roseburg Public Schools.
In March 2020, the program came to a screeching halt after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Roseburg driver education coordinator Mike Pardon said it took a year to get the program up and running again due to liability and insurance issues with the district.
“There are (safety and sanitation) guidelines out there for driver's ed,” he said. “Since there are guidelines, we learned our liability and insurance would be OK with us starting back up.”
Pardon said they started classes up again on March 1. Because of COVID-19, he said the road to getting students licensed looks a lot different now.
“We hand sanitize, we have to wear masks in the car,” he said. “We have to have windows down to improve ventilation and we have to have our air conditioning on.”
While the "on the road" portion is in person, Pardon said they’re utilizing Zoom to teach the written portions of the test.
In Douglas County, there are only two driver’s education programs available -- through Roseburg Public Schools and Umpqua Community College.
At UCC, dean of community education Robin Van Winkle said they also had to shut their program down in March 2020. However, she said they were given the green light to restart two months later.
Now that Roseburg Public Schools had restarted their program, Van Winkle said she’s glad there will be other options for students.
“We were inundated,” said Van Winkle. “I mean we’ve been inundated since June and we have not been able to get everyone in who wants to get in a class.”
As for the students enrolled through Roseburg Public Schools, they said they’re glad the wait is finally over.
“During my sophomore year, that’s when I would’ve gotten my license and stuff,” said Roseburg High School student Skyler Weidemeryer. “I had to wait because of COVID.”
Other students said driver’s education has been a lifesaver while they continue with the hybrid learning model for the rest of the year.
“The best part is getting to drive around the different parts of Roseburg, especially the ones I don’t like being in,” said Roseburg High School student Sarah Coffie. “And also being able to get out of the house.”
Spring sessions for both programs will run until May.