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The Oregon School District will start the year online, and a week later than planned.

With Dane County COVID-19 restrictions hampering the ability to hold in-person learning, the district released its reopening plans in a letter to parents Friday, July 30.

The letter informs parents of the new opening date for the 2020-21 school year of Tuesday, Sept. 8, and two choices for how they want to proceed. One is “Oregon Phased Restart,” in which students will eventually return to in-person schooling, and the other is “Oregon Online,” committing to full virtual instruction for the semester five days a week.

Parents are asked decide by Tuesday, Aug. 4. {span}People who do not respond will be assigned to Oregon Phased Restart, said district communications director Erika Mundinger. {/span}

Phased Restart means that the learning format (online, blended, in-person) might change throughout the school year, depending on information from Public Health Madison and Dane County. This phased reopening approach begins with online instruction for all students and some small-group options for younger learning and those with specific needs.

Students in 4K will have the potential for small group in-person instruction, and students in grades K-4 will have the potential to engage in small group in-person instruction one afternoon a week for two hours, according to the news release. Students in grades 4K-12 who require special services will also have the potential for small group in-person instruction.

Under that plan, Wednesdays will be reserved for independent review and catch-up.

District superintendent Leslie Bergstrom said in the letter while the ultimate goal is still to have students in the schools as soon as possible, district officials “prioritized the health and safety of our school community” after considering health guidance and requirements. She said both programs will be based on the same grade-level standards and that all courses will be taught by district teachers.

“You can expect that online instruction offerings will be enhanced from the distance learning experience that was put in place this past spring due to the emergency closure,” Bergstrom wrote in the letter.

Enhancements include more “face-to-face” and real time instruction, more manageable number of classes, more check-ins to engage and promote learning, resuming historical grading practices and more consistent organization.

District administration and staff will evaluate public health data in October to assess the possibility of offering additional in-person small group instruction opportunities for all students. Transportation will be available for eligible areas if there are in-person small group opportunities.

Email Unified Newspaper Group reporter Scott De Laruelle at scott.delaruelle@wcinet.com.