Oregon schools unveil reopening plan

Kelly J. Kaczala

        The Oregon City Schools District last week rolled out plans to restart school in the fall.
        “At any hour of any day of the week, things can change,” said Superintendent Hal Gregory at a board meeting on Tuesday. “They do change, they have been changing, and they are changing. That’s a constant we’re all living with. “
        “The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we view education and brought much needed awareness to personal health hygiene practices, how our health affects others, and remote learning,” he said.
        “Meeting the needs of our families is a priority, balancing with the safety of our students and staff. We have many working families who cannot afford daycare, parents in jeopardy of losing their jobs if they have to stay home with their kids, and kids who need the daily structure to thrive and have educational success. Studies have shown there is an increase of mental health concerns, anxiety, abuse and even suicides when kids are not in school. Schools play a major role in direct support for all of these concerns. Our students need to be in school with safety protocols in place. Having all our students in school is the goal, but we may not be able to start that way,” he said.
        The district looked at four options to restart school:
        •Option 1: All students attend school five days a week with teachers;
        •Option 2A: Hybrid – reduce all students by half who attend school, two days at school, three days remote with teachers.
        •Option 2B: Hybrid – reduce students in grades 7-12 by half who attend school, two days at school, three days remote with teachers. All students in grades K-6 attend four days per week.
        •Option 3: Fully remote – All students remain at home and attend school remotely with teachers.
        •Option 4: Oregon City Schools Digital Academy – Enrolled students remain at home and attend school independently using the district’s fully online platform.
Option 2A
        The district has decided to restart the school year with Option 2A Hybrid, according to Gregory.
“The goal will be to open using the HybridA option with the ability to quickly move into the HybridB option and then into Option 1(everyone) when conditions are appropriate,” said Gregory.
        One of the factors influencing the final decision, according to Gregory, is Lucas County’s designation last week to Red Level 3 on the state’s coronavirus public health advisory map. The elevated designation is for areas of very high exposure and spread.
        “It’s going to be the most safe option we have to allow for social distancing to occur in all our classrooms, striving for six feet or more,” he said.
        In Option 2A Hybrid, the hours for students would remain the same.
        Students in Grades K-12 will be divided into two groups based on their last names. All efforts will be made to keep siblings and those students who live in the same house together. The Green group (last name A-K) will attend school on Mondays and Thursdays, work remotely at home on Tuesdays and Friday. The Gold group (last name L-Z) will attend school on Tuesdays and Fridays, work remotely from home on Mondays and Thursdays. All students will be home on Wednesdays.
Not prudent
        “We believe at this point, given the fact that the number of coronavirus cases in Lucas County is climbing, the number of cases in Ohio is climbing, and the overwhelming concern of our staff and community and families, opening up in a full time model right now is not the prudent thing to do. I was all about opening up full time for all our kids, and I still want that to happen. I believe in my heart that it’s the best thing for kids to be here. But I also know - and I’ve listened to our health commissioner, our leadership team, some of our teachers, some of our support staff, read emails from our community - that opening up with all kids – the timing just is not right to do that.”
        Temperature checks will be taken as students enter the buildings on a daily basis. Students with heightened readings will be isolated and temperatures will be re-evaluated and assessed by the school nurse for false readings.
        All students must wear masks on the bus to and from school and any extra-curricular travel. The bus will be sanitized before and after the routes.
        Students and staff will be required to use the SkinGuard24 hand sanitizer upon entry to all buildings. This type of hand sanitizer works for 24 hours and does not require additional use of hand sanitizer throughout the day.
        School officials are requiring staff and students to wear a mask while at school, but are allowing for flexibility and removal of masks when the social distancing standard is being observed in the classrooms.
        All of the buildings will be disinfected every day.
        More information on the plan is available on the district’s website at oregoncityschools.org.


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