LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — Students will begin returning to classrooms in the Lake Oswego School District in February, according to an email sent to staff and families of students on Tuesday.
In the email, Superintendent Lora de la Cruz said elementary students will be the first to return on the following dates:
- Kindergarten: Feb. 4
- First grade: Feb. 11
- Second grade: Feb. 16
- Third grade: Feb. 19
- Fourth grade: Feb. 23
- Fifth grade: Feb. 25
“We are optimistic that with safety at the center, we can begin a gradual and safe return to AM/PM Hybrid in-person school with the wellbeing of teachers, staff, students and families as our top priority,” de la Cruz said in the email.
Teachers and staff supporting core elementary instruction, such as English language arts (ELA) and math, will be asked to return to their classrooms a couple of days before their students do. The hybrid model will be in effect, de la Cruz said. Staff who teach elementary music, physical education and innovation will continue teaching remotely.
The Lake Oswego Online program, which is for students who do not feel comfortable returning to school in person until there is a vaccine or effective treatment for COVID-19, will continue for the entirety of the school year.
The school district anticipates returning middle and high school students to in-person instruction after elementary students. More details will be released soon, de la Cruz said.
The decision to bring students back to the classroom is now up to school districts, whereas it previously needed to be approved by the state. School districts can decide if they'll return to in-person learning with a hybrid model or move to fully on-site classes.
Gov. Brown wants districts to weigh local COVID metrics and the needs of students when deciding if or when to return in-person She also wants educators and school staff vaccinated in Phase 1B of Oregon's rollout, which is the next phase after health care workers.
A Portland Public Schools spokesperson told KGW on Sunday the state's largest district won't return to in-person learning until "educators and school staff have access to vaccinations."
In Tuesday's email, de la Cruz said teachers will be in the 1B group for COVID-19 vaccination.
"The exact timing is unknown, and will not factor into our transition to return to school," de la Cruz said.
Ten months into the pandemic, data shows COVID-19 infection rates in schools strongly reflect virus levels in the local community. Public health experts say efforts must be focused on driving down community spread in order to open schools and keep them safe.
Studies show young children are not a driving force of COVID-19 infection in the community, at large or within school settings, especially if health and safety protocols are followed.