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Back to school in Oregon: What your district's plan looks like

Oregon has a framework for returning to school in the fall, but every district has unique needs. Here's a look at the plans for Portland metro area districts so far.

KGW Staff

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The 2019-20 school year ended with nearly three months of distance learning, and with many parents wondering what a return to school will look like in the fall.

As COVID-19 continues to spread across Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) on Aug. 11 announced an updated Ready Schools, Safe Learners framework to help dictate whether the state’s school districts can safely welcome students back into the classroom this fall.

The new framework includes updated metrics for in-person classes, primarily in small schools and in counties with lower populations, specific scenarios for responding to illnesses in schools, requirements for ensuring equity and access, and new conditions for comprehensive distance learning.

Rural and remote schools under the new guidance will have more flexibility to offer in-person instruction. In many cases, smaller Oregon districts have not seen the impact from COVID-19 that more heavily populated areas are seeing.

Exceptions to the statewide case count metrics are allowed for school districts with less than 75 students total and counties with less than 30,000 people.

Exceptions are also allowed for K-3 students, who “get the virus at lower rates, get less sick when they get COVID-19 and may spread the virus less than older children or adults,” according to the ODE update.

The overall framework for responding when someone has become ill in a school:

  • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 should isolate.
  • Any person who has been in close contact with a person with positive COVID-19 should quarantine.
  • Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who was exposed to COVID-19 does not need to quarantine.

More specific rules and scenarios are applied when people are ill and test negative, or if they don’t get tested. ODE also released responses to illnesses based on classroom and transportation cohorts.

The new equity and access guidelines focus on students in historically marginalized groups. Support systems for these students include limited in-person instruction and limited in-home services.

In order to ensure equity in student opportunities, ODE’s new conditions for comprehensive learning stipulate that no students will be held back based on their performance during the spring 2020 term.

ODE says the top priority is for all schools to return to in-person classes as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Portland metro area school district officials: If your district is not on the list, or the information here needs to be updated, please let us know by sending us the updated info right here.