PORTLAND, Oregon — School is back in session in some capacity at Woodlawn elementary school in Northeast Portland.
Limited in-person instruction, or "LIPI," started Monday and is offered three days a week from 1 p.m. to 1:30 pm for first and second graders.
Auggie Caiden, a second grader at Woodlawn, couldn’t wait to get back even on a limited basis.
“He did great. He loves it," said mom Mary Caiden. "And I figure, even if he's not really getting so much work done, he was happy. And that's what counts. And I think what part of that is for is just that emotional portion."
Auggie’s teacher, Melody Flores, is one of a few staff members back in the building. She has eight first and second graders in her class.
There are fewer than 10 students in the second LIPI class.
“It’s so different but you know what, the kids are so good at it," Flores said about the COVID precautions. "They've been living in this world for the past year, so they are very aware that things are going to look different."
Gov. Kate Brown has ordered all schools in Oregon to offer in-person learning by April.
Public schools will offer universal access to in-person learning on or before the weeks of March 29 for K-5 students and April 19 for students in grades 6-12.
"Whether or not public schools should return kids to the classroom this spring is no longer up for discussion," Gov. Brown said. "The science and data is clear. Schools can return to in-person instruction with a very low risk of COVID-19 transmission, particularly with a vaccinated workforce."
Some students or parents may want to remain in comprehensive distance learning, for health needs or other reasons, and the governor said they'll have that option. School districts may move back to distance learning if health officials determine that community COVID transmission rates warrant a transition.
Woodlawn surveyed all families about going back and 60% said they were interested in hybrid learning.
Woodlawn's principal, Andrea Porter Lopez, said the school staff is busy communicating with families and getting the building ready for more students and educators to return.
About Inside Woodlawn:
KGW investigative reporter Cristin Severance and photojournalists Gene Cotton and Kurt Austin were granted remarkable access to spend the 2019-2020 school year chronicling life inside Woodlawn Elementary School in Northeast Portland. Their reporting offers a rich view of how teachers, administrators, school staff and parents overcome many challenges to serve students. KGW will continue to tell their stories in 2021 and beyond as the staff deals with the pandemic, distance learning and providing support to families during this unprecedented time.
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