Thank you to all of you — staff, students and families — for your resilience during the past several months. We know that you’ve all been working diligently to provide the best educational experience possible during these challenging times. Your efforts are very much appreciated.
On December 23, Governor Kate Brown announced changes to the state’s approach to reopening schools. Rather than mandating that all school districts meet designated health metrics to begin in-person instruction, she has made those metrics advisory — meaning the decision to reopen will be made at the district level instead of the state level. However, the bulk of the 90-pages of safety requirements issued by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in the Ready Schools Safe Learners Guidance have not changed.
As we plan for the next steps, we’re currently considering several factors:
- On January 19, ODE is expected to announce revisions to the Ready Schools Safe Learners Guidance. We’re waiting to see if the state eases cohort numbers (current requirement: student cannot be exposed to more than 100 students/week) and social distancing requirements (currently requirement: 35 square feet of space per student). Those changes could impact what the District would be able to offer in terms of in-person instruction.
- Also on January 19, the state may change the health metrics. Under the previously-mandated health metrics, positive COVID-19 cases in Washington and Multnomah Counties had to drop below 100 per 100,000 residents (during the previous two-week period) to begin in-person instruction. As of this writing, the current case count in Washington and Multnomah Counties is 324 and 342, respectively.
- The Governor has prioritized teachers and district staff who have regular contact with students to be vaccinated in Phase 1b, after health care workers and residents of nursing facilities. As of this writing, it’s unclear when those vaccinations will be administered.
- Currently, changes in working conditions are being bargained with our teachers' association, the Beaverton Education Association (BEA). As such, finalized plans are subject to agreements made in those negotiations.
Given what we know at this moment, here’s our current thinking. We must emphasize that these plans are NOT final.
- Current guidance from ODE prioritizes the return of students in grades PreK - 2 to in-person instruction first. While not finalized, current hybrid plans have students who elect to come back to school being assigned to either mornings or afternoons (total in-school time: 2 ½ hours) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. When not at school, these students would be learning online. All students would be online on Wednesdays. Currently, we don’t have a start date identified. We hope to know more after January 19. Prior to returning to in-person instruction, elementary families will be asked to make a commitment to either hybrid or Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) instruction.
- Because the District has committed to providing a Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) option for the entire school year, families should expect some teacher reassignments. Whether your elementary student remains in CDL or opts for in-person hybrid instruction, your child’s teacher may change. We realize that this is not ideal, but it’s also unavoidable. We will do everything in our power to minimize any disruptions to your child’s learning.
- Because middle and high school students have several classes and are exposed to more students, in-person instruction under current required safety protocols remains impossible. Our tentative plan is to have all secondary students remain online in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL). However, we are considering offering limited in-person instruction (LIPI) for students with disabilities, emerging bilingual students and students without reliable internet connectivity. We also may invite students who have credit-recovery needs to come to campuses.
- We know that our secondary students are desperately missing social interaction. To meet these needs, we’d also try to facilitate small-group, in-person interactions. For example, we may be able to bring students in for AVID, clubs, community service, specific course activities and specific social activities. In terms of school-sponsored sports and activities, we’ll continue to follow guidance from the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA).
We appreciate that many of you have passionately shared your opinions with us over the past few weeks — whether you adamantly want your child to return to in-person learning or you adamantly believe students should continue online. At the end of day, no solution will be perfect. We’re simply trying to do what’s in the best interest of our children in vastly imperfect times - both in terms of their education and their safety — and the safety of our staff.
For now, we will continue in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) and await changes to be announced by ODE on January 19 — after which, we will have a better idea of how to proceed.
As always, thank you for your continued patience and support.