North Santiam School District
January 22, 2021
Message from the Superintendent
With the recent announcements from Governor Brown, regarding the shift of our re-opening metrics from mandatory to advisory, the District has begun planning to return students to in-person school. We are excited and optimistic as we begin this work, as this gives us more hope students will be entering our buildings in the near future. Our priorities as we move forward in this work will continue to be the following: we believe that students are healthiest and learn best when attending school in person, our first duty as educators is always the safety of all students, staff and families and we want to move forward in a phased and planned manner that minimizes disruption due to outbreaks of infections.
The new guidance from ODE has raised the limit to county case rates from 200 per 100,000 in population to 350 cases per 100,000. While this aligns with national recommendations and nearly doubles the limit, Marion County’s current infection rate is over 570 per 100,000. This infection rate is not just occurring in Salem or Woodburn, as our local hospital has seen increases that indicate that the virus is circulating at or near the same levels in our local communities. We will continue to monitor local conditions as well as the potential spread of the new COVID variant and its impacts in the coming weeks. In addition, COVID forecasting models show the potential for another surge in the coming month. ODE has strongly recommended that districts not shift to in-person instruction if local infection rates are increasing.
The District, therefore, is tentatively planning to shift to a “Hybrid” model possibly as early as February 22nd. Our planning is under way, but we emphasize that the date is tentative. Our priority will be elementary students and seniors at the high school, but conditions may cause us to modify these priorities as well as the actual date. The Hybrid model will break students into cohorts who will attend school two days per week and students will work on their own during their off days. The State has required that schools returning to in-person models also continue to provide a Distance Learning option for students who choose not to return, and we will communicate these plans when they are developed.
The District will continue to run Limited In-Person Instruction up until the transition to the Hybrid model occurs. The District is committed that the transition will be officially announced to parents at least three weeks before it occurs so parents can plan for the changes. We anticipate a three-day break from CDL instruction the week prior to the Hybrid start date so school buildings and classrooms can be prepared for students by our teachers and support staff.
We ask for your patience as we continue to monitor the changing conditions. We want to emphasize that even as we face these conditions, the work of planning for the return of students will move forward. We intend to be ready when conditions improve. We hope that, like us, you can take hope that returning our kids to school is now a matter of when, and not if, and that our work now focuses on that day.
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Inclement Weather & School Closures
As weather forecasts seem to be hinting toward possible colder days ahead, we want to let everyone know that we plan to release more information early next week regarding the "who, what, when and how" schools will respond to snowy or icy road conditions. In the meantime, just know that we anticipate that only LIPI (Limited In-Person Instruction) and Food Services will be affected. This means that even if there are hazardous road conditions, CDL (Comprehensive Distance Learning) will continue as it has been unless there are extenuating conditions such as a loss of power or internet services. Watch for more information early next week.
School Calendar Change
- Mid-term grading day (no school) is moved from April 9 to April 16
- Early Release day is moved from April 15 to April 22
- Conference Payback day (no school) is moved from April 16 to April 23
- SHS Graduation has been added to the calendar for June 11