Ready Schools, Safe Learners
August 6, 2020 Update
Superintendent Message: Andy Gardner
As the District shifts to a Comprehensive Distance Learning Model for all students this fall, we recognize that each family must also make similar adjustments. We have received a multitude of questions from parents about the differences between the Comprehensive Distance Learning and the North Santiam Options Academy/Fuel Education model. This communication, and the NSSD Instructional Model linked below, will hopefully help parents to make informed decisions for their children’s education during the 2020-21 school year. I am also including a link to the District website where this Q & A will be posted and where parents and students can submit questions that will then be updated regularly with answers.
NSSD Comprehensive Distance Learning Model (Option #1/Phase 1)
Students in the Comprehensive model will be engaging with NSSD teachers daily through on-line classes using Google Meets or Zoom. We are looking at how students can meet teachers in-person to begin the year, but have not developed that yet. The District will use its standard curriculum, although additional learning software will be provided. Student grades will be A-F, attendance will be monitored, and schools will be focused on keeping students engaged through phone calls, home visits, meetings with parents, etc. As we do this work, we are keenly aware of the load that we have shifted onto families and will have a supportive philosophy; but we now face the formal expectation that all students will attend school. Our schedules have been intentionally set so that when conditions allow, in-person school can be resumed safely.
NSSD Options Academy/Fuel Education (Option #2)
This option is open to all grades. We recommend this for students who are self-motivated and have someone who can act as a “Learning Coach” in the home who can support them and help monitor their progress. Fuel Education courses are designed for students to work independently at their own pace. The teacher will monitor progress and check in with students, but does not instruct them directly. The lessons rely on students being able to read to learn, and a student who needs a lot of support in reading or math will likely struggle to make progress. Students who enroll in the NSSD Options Academy will be able to move to in-person school only at the semester break (end of January) or start of a new school year.
Students enrolled in the Options Academy are students of the District and may engage in NSSD school activities or electives without a fee, should health conditions allow them. The District has reached its 3% cap and will not be releasing students to enroll in on-line charter schools (such as ORCA or Silvies Charter School) that exist outside the District. Parents with students already enrolled in on-line charter schools may participate in elective classes or sports but must pay a fee to do so. If you have already pre-registered on the District website for Options Academy, you will be receiving an email shortly informing you of the next steps. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this new territory together.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the difficulties of the current situation, and the challenges it creates for all of you. We whole-heartedly agree that in-person school is where relationships and learning best occur, and feel deeply your concerns for your children’s learning for this year. We also must acknowledge, however, that sending 600,000 students back to school in Oregon right now would be the single biggest risk that the State could undertake in terms of creating greater transmission of the virus until our COVID case counts come down. We will watch the county-by-county case counts closely, and we want you to know that when we can safely do so, we are committed to returning to school as it was.
Andy Gardner, Superintendent
North Santiam School District