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Home Care in Portland, CT

They say that your golden years are the best years of your life. For most older Americans, that’s how it should be – a time to relax, reflect, and live life in a familiar place. After all, senior citizens in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to build a better economy, serve their communities, and raise families.

However, as seniors grow older, sometimes they cannot live independently without someone by their side to provide care. Unfortunately, some older Americans aren’t able to rely on their adult children for help. The reality in today’s world is that family members do not have the skills or time to dedicate to caring for their parents. That’s where Always Best Care Senior Services comes in.

Our in-home care services are for people who prefer to stay at home as they grow older but need ongoing care that family or friends cannot provide. More and more older adults prefer to live in the comforts or their home rather than in an assisted living community. Home care in Portland, CT is a safe, effective way to give your loved ones the care they need when they need it the most.

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What Our Clients Are Saying

The Always Best Care Difference

Since 1996, Always Best Care has provided non-medical in-home care for seniors to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as they age. We are proud to have helped tens of thousands of seniors to maintain a higher level of dignity and respect. We focus on providing seniors with the highest level of home care available so that they may live happily and independently.

Unlike some senior care companies, we genuinely want to be included in our clients’ lives. We believe that personalized care is always the better option over a “one size fits all” approach. To make sure our senior clients receive the best care possible, we pair them with compassionate caregivers who understand their unique needs.

The Always Best Care difference lies in life’s little moments – where compassionate care and trustworthy experience come together to help seniors live a fruitful, healthy life. Whether you are an aging adult that can’t quite keep up with life’s daily tasks or the child of a senior who needs regular in-home care services in Portland, CT. Always Best Care is here to help.

How does In-home Senior Care in Portland, CT work?

Home is where the heart is. While that saying can sound a tad cliché, it’s especially true for many seniors living in America. When given a choice, older adults most often prefer to grow older at home. An AARP study found that three out of four adults over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. When you begin to think about why, it makes sense. Home offers a sense of security, comfort, and familiarity.

The truth is, as we age, we begin to rely on others for help. When a family is too busy or lives too far away to fulfill this role, in-home senior care is often the best solution. Home care services allow seniors to enjoy personal independence while also receiving trustworthy assistance from a trained caregiver.

At Always Best Care, we offer a comprehensive range of home care services to help seniors stay healthy while they get the help they need to remain independent. As your senior loved one ages, giving them the gift of senior care is one of the best ways to show your love, even if you live far away.

Types of In-home Care in Portland, CT

To give our senior clients the best care possible, we offer a full spectrum of in-home care services:

Personal Care Services

If your senior loved one has specific care needs, our personal care services are a great choice to consider. Personal care includes the standard caregiving duties associated with companion care and includes help with tasks such as dressing and grooming. Personal care can also help individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes or Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Common personal care services include assistance with:

  • Eating
  • Mobility Issues
  • Incontinence
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Grooming

Home Helper Services

Sometimes, seniors need helpful reminders to maintain a high quality of life at home. If you or your senior has trouble with everyday tasks like cooking, our home helper services will be very beneficial.

Common home helper care services include assistance with:

  • Medication Reminders
  • Meal Preparation
  • Pet Care
  • Prescription Refills
  • Morning Wake-Up
  • Walking
  • Reading

Companionship Services

Using this kind of care is a fantastic way to make life easier for you or your senior loved one. At Always Best Care, our talented caregivers often fill the role of a companion for seniors. That way, older adults can enjoy their favorite activities and hobbies while also receiving the care they need daily or weekly.

Common companionship services include:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Nutritional Assistance
  • Conversation
  • Planning Outings
  • Completing Errands
  • Transportation to Community Events and Social Outings

Respite Care Services

According to AARP, more than 53 million adults living in the U.S. provide care to someone over 50 years old. Unfortunately, these caregivers experience stress, exhaustion, and even depression. Our respite care services help family caregivers address urgent obligations, spend time with their children, and enjoy other activities. Perhaps more importantly, respite care gives family members time to recharge and regroup. Taking personal time to de-stress helps reduce the risks of caregiver burnout.

When it comes to non-medical home care, our goal is to become a valuable part of your senior’s daily routine. That way, we may help give them the highest quality of life possible. We know that staying at home is important for your loved one, and we are here to help make sure that is possible. If you have been on the fence about non-medical home care, there has never been a better time than now to give your senior the care, assistance, and companionship they deserve.

Benefits of Home Care in Portland, CT

Always Best Care in-home services are for older adults who prefer to stay at home but need ongoing care that friends and family cannot provide. In-home care is a safe, effective way for seniors to age gracefully in a familiar place and live independent, non-institutionalized lives. The benefits of non-medical home care are numerous. Here are just a few reasons to consider senior care services from Always Best Care:

  • Age in Place
    According to AARP, 9 out of 10 seniors prefer to age in place within the comfort of their own home. With in-home care, seniors have a way to stay at home, receive the care they need, and maintain a sense of independence, improving overall wellness.
  • Peace of Mind
    If you or a member of your family have assumed the role of caregiver for your senior loved one, you know how stressful the job can be. Between caregiver burnout and constant worry, being a family caregiver is hard. In-home care relieves your burden and gives you peace of mind knowing that your senior family member is in expert hands.
  • Socialization
    Unlike many senior care facilities where the staff and residents rotate frequently, seniors can foster new friendships and build bonds with their caregiver. Seniors who socialize on a regular basis are often happier, which fosters positivity and leads to increased wellbeing.
  • Personalized Care Plan
    No two seniors need the same kind of in-home care assistance. That is why each of our care plans are tailored to meet our client’s individual needs. We offer plans that cover everything from light housekeeping to more involved duties like transportation to doctor’s appointments. Our Care Coordinators will work closely with you to develop a personalized plan to ensure your senior’s needs are exceeded.

Always Best Care offers a full array of care options for clients at all levels of health. With our trusted elderly care services, your loved one will receive the level of care necessary for them to enjoy the highest possible quality of life.

Aging in Place: The Preferred Choice for Most Seniors

While it’s true that some seniors have complicated medical needs that prevent them from staying at home, aging in place is often the best arrangement for seniors and their families. With a trusted caregiver, seniors have the opportunity to live with a sense of dignity and do so as they see fit.

In-home care makes it possible for millions of seniors to age in place every year. Rather than moving to a unfamiliar assisted living community, seniors have the chance to stay at home where they feel the happiest and most comfortable.

Here are just a few of the reasons why older men and women prefer to age at home:

Comfort

How much does a senior’s home truly mean to them?

A study published by the American Society on Aging found that more than half of seniors say their home’s emotional value means more than how much their home is worth in monetary value. It stands to reason, that a senior’s home is where they want to grow old. With the help of elderly care in Portland, CT, seniors don’t have to age in a sterilized care facility. Instead, they can age gracefully in the place they want to be most: their home. In contrast, seniors who move to a long-term care facility must adapt to new environments, new people, and new systems that the facility implements. At this stage in life, this kind of drastic change can be more harmful than helpful.

Healthy Living

Institutional care facilities like nursing homes often put large groups of people together to live in one location. On any given day, dozens of staff members and caregivers run in and out of these facilities. Being around so many new people in a relatively small living environment can be dangerous for a seniors’ health and wellbeing. When you consider that thousands of seniors passed away in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, opting for in-home care is often a safer, healthier choice for seniors. Aging in place has been shown to improve seniors’ quality of life, which helps boost physical health and also helps insulate them from viral and bacterial risks found in elderly living facilities.

Independence

For many seniors, the ability to live independently with assistance from a caregiver is a priceless option. With in-home care, seniors experience a higher level of independence and freedom – much more so than in other settings like an assisted living community. When a senior has the chance to age in place, they get to live life on their own terms, inside the house that they helped make into a home. More independence means more control over their personal lives, too, which leads to increased levels of fulfillment, happiness, and personal gratification. Over time, these positive feelings can manifest into a healthier, longer life.

Cost and Convenience

More independence, a healthier life, and increased comfort are only a few benefits of aging in place. You have to take into consideration the role of cost and convenience. Simply put, it’s usually easier to help seniors age in place than it is to move them into an institutional care facility. In-home care services from Always Best Care, for instance, can be less expensive than long-term solutions, which can cost upwards of six figures per year. To make matters worse, many residential care facilities are reluctant to accept long-term care insurance and other types of payment assistance.

With Always Best Care’s home care services, seniors and their families have a greater level of control over their care plans. In-home care in Portland, CT gives seniors the chance to form a bond with a trusted caregiver and also receive unmatched care that is catered to their needs. In long-term care facilities, seniors and their loved ones have much less control over their care plan and have less of a say in who provides their care.

Affordable Care Plans

In-home care is a valuable resource that empowers seniors to age in place on their own terms. However, a big concern for many families and their loved ones is how much in-home care costs. If you’re worried that in-home care is too expensive, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that it is one of the most affordable senior care arrangements available.

Typically, hiring an Always Best Care in-home caregiver for a few hours a week is more affordable than sending your loved one to a long-term care facility. This is true even for seniors with more complex care needs.

At Always Best Care, we will work closely with you and your family to develop a Care Plan that not only meets your care needs, but your budget requirements, too. Once we discover the level of care that you or your senior need, we develop an in-home care plan that you can afford.

In addition to our flexible care options, families should also consider the following resources to help offset potential home care costs:

  • Veteran’s Benefits: Attendance and aid benefits through military service can cover a portion of the costs associated with in-home care for veterans and their spouses.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Many senior care services like in-home care are included in long-term care insurance options. Research different long-term care solutions to find a plan that provides coverage for senior care.
  • Private Insurance: Home care can be included as part of a senior’s private insurance plan. Read over your loved one’s insurance policy carefully or speak with their insurance provider to determine if in-home care is covered.
  • Life Insurance: Depending on the life insurance plan, you may be able to apply your policy toward long-term care. You may be able to use long-term-care coverage to help pay for in-home elderly care.

During your Care Plan consultation with Always Best Care, your Care Coordinator will speak with you about in-home care costs and what options there may be to help meet your budget needs.

Compassionate Care. Trusted Caregivers

When you or your senior loved one needs assistance managing daily tasks at home, finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging. It takes a special kind of person to provide reliable care for your senior loved one. However, a caregiver’s role involves more than meal preparation and medication reminders. Many seniors rely on their caregivers for companionship, too.

Our companion care services give seniors the chance to socialize in a safe environment and engage in activities at home. These important efforts boost morale and provide much-needed relief from repetitive daily routines. A one-on-one, engaging conversation can sharpen seniors’ minds and give them something in which to be excited.

At Always Best Care, we only hire care providers that we would trust to care for our own loved ones. Our senior caregivers in Portland,CT understand how important it is to listen and communicate with their seniors. A seemingly small interaction, like a short hug goodbye, can make a major difference in a senior’s day. Instead of battling against feelings of isolation, seniors begin to look forward to seeing their caregiver each week.

Understanding the nuances of senior care is just one of the reasons why our care providers are so great at their job.

Unlike some senior care companies, our caregivers must undergo extensive training before they work for Always Best Care. In addition, our caregivers receive ongoing training throughout the year. This training ensures that their standard of care matches up to the high standards we've come to expect. During this training, they will brush up on their communication skills, safety awareness, and symptom spotting. That way, your loved one receives the highest level of non-medical home care from day one.

Taking the First Step with Always Best Care

The first step in getting quality in-home care starts with a personal consultation with an experienced Care Coordinator. This initial consultation is crucial for our team to learn more about you or your elderly loved one to discover the level of care required. Topics of this consultation typically include:

01

An assessment of your senior loved one

02

An in-depth discussion of the needs of your senior loved one to remain in their own home

03

Reviewing a detailed Care Plan that will meet your senior loved one's needs

Our caregivers are trained to spot changes that clients exhibit, like mental and physical decline. As your trusted senior care company, we will constantly assess and update your Care Plan to meet any new emotional, intellectual, physical, and emotional needs.

If you have never considered in-home care before, we understand that you and your family may have concerns about your Care Plan and its Care Coordinator. To help give you peace of mind, know that every team member and caregiver must undergo comprehensive training before being assigned to a Care Plan.

Latest News in Portland

Anfernee Simons scores 31, Portland beats Sacramento 103-88

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Anfernee Simons led all scorers with 31 points and the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Sacramento Kings their fourth straight loss, 103-88 on Sunday night.Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, and the Blazers snapped a two-game losing streak.Tyrese Haliburton scored 17 points for the Kings, who have lost seven straight on the road. Alex Len added 16 points and 10 rebounds.Simons' 3-pointer put the Blazers up 90-70, their biggest lead of the game, with just over seven minu...

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Anfernee Simons led all scorers with 31 points and the Portland Trail Blazers handed the Sacramento Kings their fourth straight loss, 103-88 on Sunday night.

Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, and the Blazers snapped a two-game losing streak.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 17 points for the Kings, who have lost seven straight on the road. Alex Len added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Simons' 3-pointer put the Blazers up 90-70, their biggest lead of the game, with just over seven minutes left. The Kings responded with a 10-2 run before Simons hit another 3 that made it 95-80 with 4:36 to go.

The Blazers never trailed in the game.

“Just playing with a lot of energy, going out there and having fun,” Simons said about the team's mindset. “That's kind of our speech, `Have fun, play hard, play together.' I think we did all three of those things.”

Simons, who has been filling in for Damian Lillard, finished with seven 3-pointers.

“He's been tremendous,” Nurkic said. “Without him, we don't win the game.”

Lillard remained out because of lower abdominal tendinopathy and won't travel on Portland's upcoming six-game trip. Backcourt teammate CJ McCollum has missed 14 games after a collapsed right lung.

Norman Powell went into health and safety protocols earlier Sunday. Ben McLemore started for the first time this season and finished with 13 points.

The Kings were also short-handed. De’Aaron Fox was a game-time decision because of a sore right shoulder and started. Maurice Harkless didn't play because of a sore right ankle.

Richaun Holmes and Damian Jones were out because of the health and safety protocols, but Chimezie Metu was cleared and played 13 minutes off the bench.

“It’s not good enough. We've got to be a lot better," Haliburton said. "We have to be better when teams are missing their best players, and it's just another game this year where a team is missing a majority of their starters, their core. I know guys came in and made plays, but I don't know, man. We gotta be better.”

The Blazers led most of the first half, with Simons' floater putting them up 40-29. Portland led 53-40 at the break.

Nurkic hit a 3-pointer that gave Portland a 71-57 lead in the third quarter.

Nurkic shrugged a bit when asked afterward how badly he wanted the triple-double.

“If it happened, great, but if not, I'll take the win,” he said.

TIP INS

Kings: It was the final meeting between the teams this season. Sacramento won the first two. ... The Kings made just seven of 31 3-point attempts.

Blazers: Coach Chauncey Billups said before the game that Lillard is consulting with specialists this week regarding his injury to determine how to proceed. ... Billups also said McCollum is close to a return, but he and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child soon.

STARTING MATERIAL?

Simons has been getting demonstrably better filling in for Lillard at the point, leading to speculation about whether he could be an every-night starter in the league.

“I think he's on his way. This stretch here without Dame is going to big for Ant," Billups said. "I know what I feel about him, but it's not about me, it's about proving himself to everybody else. He's going to have to maintain that consistency.”

MOTIVATION

Sacramento interim coach Alvin Gentry said he has to continue to try and motivate the team, and the players need to be accountable, too.

“We are not in a position to have pity parties. It’s the old adage about ‘tough times don’t last, tough people do,” Gentry said. ”So we've got to make sure that we’re the tough people surviving this thing because it's no fun at all what we’re going through right now."

UP NEXT

Kings: Host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, the first of a five-game homestand.

Trail Blazers: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night in a game that was originally scheduled for Dec. 23, but postponed.

With Harden out, Trail Blazers down the Nets 114-108

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden's absence for a 114-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second game of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in...

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Anfernee Simons had 23 points and 11 assists, and the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of James Harden's absence for a 114-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee. Kyrie Irving started in his second game of the season and finished with 22 points. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets.

Robert Covington had 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the Blazers, who saw all five starters score in double figures.

Simons said Covington's play against Durant boosted the team.

“I think RoCo did a good job of playing him the second half,” Simons said. “So that was that was big for us to slow him down and just kind of play team defense. We’ve been playing very hard, we’ve been making a lot less mistakes on defense. That’s been helping us.”

Monday’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 23 but was postponed because of COVID-19 issues. In making up the game, both teams were playing the second of back-to-backs.

Portland led 87-81 going into the final quarter. Covington's 3-pointer put Portland up 107-100 with 2:15 to go but the Nets closed within 110-105 down the stretch.

Ben McLemore's 3 with 31.9 seconds left made it 113-105 and sealed it for Portland. McLemore finished with 20 points and five 3s.

“Certainly nobody in the world thought that we would win this game with the guys that we have missing, even though they're missing some important players too,” Portland first-year coach Chauncey Billups said. “I'm more happy than anything for our team, to be honest. We've suffered a lot of losses in this building, a lot of bad losses.”

The Blazers again were without Damian Lillard, out with lower abdominal tendinopathy, and backcourt teammate CJ McCollum, who has been out for 14 games after a collapsed lung. Fellow starters Norman Powell (COVID-19 protocols) and Larry Nance Jr. (right knee) were also out for Portland.

Meanwhile, Nets coach Steve Nash said the team was being cautious with Harden in a dense stretch of games and that Harden should be available on Wednesday at Chicago.

Irving, who has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from playing in New York due to the city’s vaccine mandate, has resumed playing on the road. For his first game last week at Indiana, he finished with 22 points in nearly 32 minutes.

“It felt like I made a few good moves, but now it's just getting back in that NBA action of that athleticism and catching up to that speed, that’s really what it is at this point, I feel,” Irving said.

Irving appeared to tweak his ankle in the fourth quarter but afterward said he was fine and would play Wednesday. He criticized Portland's Nassir Little for diving on the play: “I tried to get out of the way but I just felt like it was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball."

Brooklyn led 62-55 at the break, paced by Durant with 20 points. It was his 19th straight game with 20 or more points, the second-longest streak of 20-point games in Nets history.

“Second half, they hit 3s in that third quarter, they hit 3s in that fourth quarter. You gotta give them credit for knocking down shots but I thought we were there, intentions were good," Durant said. “We've just got to finish it a little better, finish plays a little better.”

TOUGH TRAVEL

The Nets arrived in Portland late Sunday after wrapping up the win over the Spurs and flying across the country. Then there's another long flight ahead for Wednesday night's game at the Bulls. And on Thursday, they're back at home against the Thunder.

The Nets are playing four games in five days, and five games in the next seven days.

“I think it's really important for us to take day-by-day right now. I know that's a cliche, but I think that is the smartest way to approach this,” Nash said.

TIP INS

Nets: Joining Harden on the Nets’ injury report was former Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge, who has a sore right foot and also missed the game against the Spurs. ... The Nets lead the league with a 15-4 road record.

Trail Blazers: Portland was coming off a 103-88 victory at home over Sacramento on Sunday night. ... Simons made a seemingly impossible layup to end the first half, going up against two defenders and throwing the ball up behind his back.

UP NEXT

Nets: Visit Chicago on Wednesday.

Trail Blazers: Kick off a six-game road trip at Denver on Wednesday.

For over 20 years, Portland man spreads holiday cheer as Santa

MIDDLETOWN — A very special, jolly old man in red, a toy bundle slung upon his back, arrived at City Hall Thursday as the guest of honor during holiday festivities.Norman Ward, aka Santa Claus, helped spread cheer as city employees participated in their annual door-decorating contest.In lieu of his fee, the Portland resident asks for donations primarily to the Friends of the Portland Library, as well as ...

MIDDLETOWN — A very special, jolly old man in red, a toy bundle slung upon his back, arrived at City Hall Thursday as the guest of honor during holiday festivities.

Norman Ward, aka Santa Claus, helped spread cheer as city employees participated in their annual door-decorating contest.

In lieu of his fee, the Portland resident asks for donations primarily to the Friends of the Portland Library, as well as Youth and Family Services’ emergency shelter, and the food bank.

Ward, who’s been suiting up for over 20 years, looks remarkably like Kris Kringle, Middletown Environmental Planner James Sipperly pointed out.

“That’s because I am Santa,” retorted the man tasked with spreading joy, love and Christmas cheer.

Playing St. Nick is grueling, Ward admitted. “It’s 24/7. I can be out for 14 hours a day sometimes,” he said. “We run around from one get-together to another.”

The No. 1 gift children are asking for this year is a toy garbage truck. “That’s something new for Santa,” he said.

He surmises children, confined to home during the pandemic, are entertained by sanitation workers picking up trash every week.

Family games are also enjoying a resurgence, as well as Slinky, he said.

Outside of the holidays, Santa is retired from a career in finance, and serves as chairman of the Portland Conservation Commission and is a member of the town’s Water and Sewer Commission.

But through Christmas, he’s a full-time Santa.

In light of the pandemic, Santa and Mrs. Claus keep their distance from the children behind a little fence, with everyone masked up. Most of the kids understand they can’t sit on his lap or get hugs this year.

“We leave it up to the families if they want me to hold their child,” Ward said.

City Hall was full of excitement during the judging of the annual door-decorating contest. Offices on all three floors were bedecked with holiday decorations, with employees, many of whom were dressed in “ugly sweaters,” there to mark the occasion.

This year’s contest theme was holiday celebrations around the world, Director of Land Use Marek Kozikowski said. In 2020, employees created scenes of their favorite Christmas songs, and in 2019, Christmas movies.

Naturally, Kozikowski believes his office had the “best” decorations.

Employees created a display centered on Weihnachten, a celebration of Christmas Eve in German-speaking countries, which won a gold star for its entryway, festively festooned with white lights, stuffed animal owls, a nest and tree branches.

Other countries that celebrate the holiday include Austria and Switzerland.

“On Christmas Eve, people go outside and enjoy the woods. After that, when it gets dark, they go and eat,” said Sipperly, who is one-quarter German.

Faith Jackson, who was one of the city employees who posed for photos with Santa, was clad from head to toe in holiday colors — a red-and-green cap, sparkly reindeer antler glasses, and gingerbread-and-candy cane vest.

Another employee wore a black tank dress covered in lights and gold, green, red and pin details, her shoulders adorned with a tinsel “scarf.”

Bob Westendorfo, whose grandparents were born in Germany, happened to stop by the mayor’s office at the same time. He and his family observed Weihnachten growing up.

“We just loved going into the woods and celebrating for a while,” said Westendorfo, whose father loved the outdoors.

“That’s where I learned to love nature and animals,” he said.

On Christmas Eve, each family member would find one present under the tree, Westendorfo said. “He came around just for us,” he joked.

“We couldn’t ever figure out how Santa got around everywhere for Christmas Day, so he came on Christmas Eve,” he added.

The contest was judged on a floor-by-floor basis, with the second level declared the winners. The land use office was given a gold star for its “exemplary” decorations, Sipperly said. The prize is a pizza party.

Meanwhile, Santa derives much joy from his longtime role, which warms his “heart with joy.”

“I always say, ‘I receive more than I give,’” he added.

Bus driver shortage forces Vancouver schools to go remote

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A shortage of bus drivers caused by a surge of the highly contagious COVID-19 omicron variant has forced Vancouver Public Schools in southwest Washington to switch to a rotating schedule of remote instruction in its middle and high schools, making it the latest Pacific Northwest school district to suffer impacts from the pandemic's spread.Three groups of schools will take turns doing online instruction for one week each in a rotation that starts Tuesday and goes until Jan. 27, The Columbian reported....

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A shortage of bus drivers caused by a surge of the highly contagious COVID-19 omicron variant has forced Vancouver Public Schools in southwest Washington to switch to a rotating schedule of remote instruction in its middle and high schools, making it the latest Pacific Northwest school district to suffer impacts from the pandemic's spread.

Three groups of schools will take turns doing online instruction for one week each in a rotation that starts Tuesday and goes until Jan. 27, The Columbian reported.

The move comes as the district faces a sharp increase in staff absences due to illness or quarantine measures. Vancouver Public Schools is offering a $500 hiring bonus for substitute bus drivers who meet the district’s requirements through June 15.

The district, which hopes that full-time in-person learning can return to all schools in February, also had to shut down its testing site this week when test kits ran out, the newspaper reported.

The district in southwest Washington is the latest in the Pacific Northwest to deal with the fallout from omicron. The Washington Department of Health reported 13,733 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, according to The Seattle Times, but data on deaths and hospitalizations wasn't updated Tuesday because of a data systems interruption, health officials said.

Oregon reported 8,040 new presumptive or confirmed cases Tuesday and 35 deaths.

A number of districts Portland and its suburbs switched to remote learning or have adjusted their schedules due to COVID-19, and Jefferson County School District shut down a K-8 school on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs reservation in central Oregon this week out of concern for the tribe.

Ashland School District in southern Oregon announced Tuesday that one class at the John Muir Outdoor School went virtual on Monday and its high school will go to online learning on Thursday.

In Seattle, classes were canceled Monday and Tuesday at one high school and one elementary school because of staffing shortages and Seattle Public Schools leaders are weighing whether to bring back remote instruction temporarily, The Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

Portland has shifted at least four of its schools to remote instruction this week and Parkrose School District, which also serves part of Oregon's largest city, also shifted to remote learning.

The Tigard-Tualatin School District announced Tuesday that they would shift to remote learning for two high schools and three middle schools starting Thursday through Jan. 21.

The Meat Grinder HS Football Podcast (S4 E15): That's a 2021 Championship Wrap!

Sean Patrick Bowley, Pete Paguaga and columnist Jeff Jacobs recap the 2021 CIAC Football championship weekend, celebrate the four state champions, Cromwell/Portland, Killingly, Maloney and No. 1 Darien.They also take a look ahead at what's next for high school football, including the CIAC's loathsome return of six state champions, weird realignments and confounding scheduling d...

Sean Patrick Bowley, Pete Paguaga and columnist Jeff Jacobs recap the 2021 CIAC Football championship weekend, celebrate the four state champions, Cromwell/Portland, Killingly, Maloney and No. 1 Darien.

They also take a look ahead at what's next for high school football, including the CIAC's loathsome return of six state champions, weird realignments and confounding scheduling decisions, among many other topics as we put a bow on a successful 2021 season.

So join us, won't you?

There are plenty of listening options available: The easiest is by hitting 'play' on the embedded Soundcloud player at the top of this post. You can also subscribe to and listen on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts and on Spotify to stream anywhere you wish and get notifications so you won't miss an episode when it drops.

THE RUNDOWN

00:00 -- Championship Montage (Cromwell/Portland's Ted Williams and Randell Bennett; Killingly's Jack Sharpe & Chad Neal; Maloney's Kevin Frederick; Darien's David Evanchick & Mike Forget.

2:18 -- Introduction and breaking down the final GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll. Darien is No. 1

14:34 -- Recapping Class LL: Darien routs Fairfield Prep for fourth title in six years.

30:41 -- Recapping Class M: Sharpe, Rief lead Killingto past Rockville, to second title in four years.

36:42 -- Recapping Class S: Ted Williams goes off to spark Cromwell/Portland past Bloomfield

46:41 -- Tying up loose ends: Surviving COVID; lamenting next year's six state champions, debating championship sites and scheduling philosophies.

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