With the start of school on Tuesday, Sept. 8, just a few weeks away, Oregon School District officials are continuing to refine plans for a partly virtual beginning of the fall semester.
At the Monday, Aug. 10, school board meeting, members were updated on recent steps taken to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 when students and staff go back into the buildings.
To start the year, families were given two choices: “Oregon Phased Restart,” in which students will eventually return to in-person schooling when health conditions allow, or “Oregon Online,” which commits students to full virtual instruction for the entire semester, five days a week.
In the restart model, students in grades K-4 will have the potential to engage in small group in-person instruction one afternoon a week for two hours, while students in grades 4K-12 who require special services will also have the potential for small group in-person instruction.
In anticipation of students and staff returning to the schools, district business manager Andy Weiland said the district has started to purchase items like cleaning supplies, new HVAC filters and signs to remind people about social distancing, handwashing and COVID-19 symptom awareness. Weiland said the district is also waiting for guidance from the state departments of Health Services and Public Instruction on setting up “isolation rooms” for those experiencing symptoms.
“There’s been a lot of discussion on isolation rooms,” he said.
There will be some changes when the doors open again. One of the main ones is that students in grades 5-12 will not be able to use lockers, but will need to use backpacks.
“We’re going to be keeping kids in the classrooms as much as possible,” Weiland said. “Most (older) students are using their backpacks quite a bit.”
Face coverings will be required on buses, which will be cleaned and disinfected after each time a route is completed, and students will have assigned seats. Weiland said guidelines suggest seating students one to a seat, diagonally from each other, meaning the number of students on a bus would be “in the low 20s.”
The district will also limit after-hours facility use to outside groups during the pandemic, he said.
“We’ve always been very open with our facilities as much as possible, but in this situation, we're probably going to be a little more protective (and) give staff a little more time to clean facilities,” Weiland said.