Sherwood Schools: District Updates
Back to School 2021-22 Edition
August 27, 2021
With the start of another school year just around the corner, our district is preparing to welcome our students back into our buildings. With the rise of COVID-19 case rates in our area, tending to the health and safety strategies that will decrease the spread of the virus is a significant part of that planning. In this update, you will find information about many of those strategies -- please watch for communications from your student’s school with additional details on how prevention strategies will be implemented at that location.
Mask Mandates Update
With the implementation of recent statewide mask mandates, all students and staff are required to wear masks indoors at all times, except when engaged in one of the following:
Actively eating or drinking
Playing a musical instrument that requires using the mouth
Engaged in a sport during physical education class such as swimming or other water sports, or a sport where a mask could be a strangulation hazard (such as wrestling)
Alone in a private office enclosed by walls on all sides with a door that is closed
This week, Governor Kate Brown asked the Oregon Health Authority to implement an additional rule to include mandated use of masks in outdoor public spaces where 6 feet of space cannot be maintained. This includes gatherings on school grounds, as well as coaches, support staff, and spectators over the age of 5 at sporting events. The Oregon School Activities Association has provided additional clarification for athletics and activities, which can be viewed here. Our district will operate in alignment with the OSAA guidance for these events. Mask requirements for day-to-day operations at K-12 schools, such as recess and outdoor PE, are not governed by this new outdoor rule. For activities such as recess and outdoor PE students will not be required to wear a mask, but will be required to maintain 6 feet of distance while unmasked.
Families who do not want their student to wear a mask to attend school in-person will be provided with an option to continue their student’s education virtually. According to the guidance provided by the Oregon Department of Education, “Schools cannot serve a student in-person if they or their family choose not to wear a face covering. Schools may offer a remote or online school option for the student.”
Oregon Virtual Education (ORVED) Option
To address the various needs of families best served by an online learning option, including families who are concerned about the rising case rates, as well as families who do not want their student to wear a mask to attend school in-person, we will be partnering with the Northwest Regional Education Service District to provide SSD students with access to the Oregon Virtual Education (ORVED) platform. This program serves students in grades K-12 with a comprehensive, online curriculum.
An interest survey was sent out earlier this week to gauge family interest in the ORVED program -- thank you to those families who completed the survey and shared your questions with our team! Registration for ORVED is now open to SSD students and families. To register for this online option, please complete the registration form found here. For more information on the ORVED isit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page here. Please note that registration for the ORVED program requires a commitment of enrollment through at least the first trimester at the middle and high school levels, and until a natural schedule break at elementary (such as a grading period) -- see the FAQ page for more information.
Adopting physical distancing guidance is an important aspect of minimizing the spread of the COVID virus in our schools. For students, this includes 3 feet of physical distance to the fullest extent possible when combined with proper use of face masks, and with distance increased to 6 feet at times when masks are not worn, such as recess. Guidance for adult (staff) physical distancing continues to be 6 feet.
Another component of health and safety guidance is tending to building ventilation. Our district is fortunate that, through the bond-funded deferred maintenance efforts in recent years, much of our HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) equipment throughout the district has been repaired, upgraded, or replaced. Our maintenance teams continue to routinely monitor operation of our HVAC systems to ensure that all equipment is working properly and providing acceptable indoor air quality.
One important aspect of any ventilation system is air filters. Prior to COVID-19, the district used MERV 8 (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) filters, as required by the EPA. While MERV 8 filters do a great job of filtering out dust, dander, and other particulates, they are not as effective for filtering out the COVID virus. Since last fall, we have been replacing the MERV 8 filters with MERV 13 filters, as recommended by ASHRAE (The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers). The use of air purifiers has also been implemented in higher use areas.
An additional step taken by our Facilities and Operations Department has been to maximize the amount of outside air being pulled into buildings through the HVAC system (as opposed to only recycling the air within the buildings). While this approach does decrease the ability of staff to control building temperatures to a preferred degree, we do balance this approach with every effort to maintain a comfortable air temperature throughout our buildings. When weather allows, we encourage the use of open windows and fans (where available) to increase the flow of outside air into buildings.
We know that practicing good hygiene habits is essential to stopping the spread of any virus -- including regular hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer. Last year, all of our schools were provided with hand sanitation stations, and our custodial teams regularly tend to restocking soap and hand sanitizer at all locations. Our staff also work hard to implement good hygiene practices as part of the day-to-day culture within the school environment. This includes verbal reminders, building time for hygiene practices into daily routines, and posted signage to provide visual reminders.
When to Keep Students at Home
One of the most important ways to prevent the spread of the COVID virus in our schools is for families to keep ill students at home. Students displaying the following primary symptoms of COVID will be sent home from school, and we encourage families to screen for these symptoms daily before sending their students to school:
Fever of 100.4°F or higher
Shortness of breath
New loss of taste or smell
If your student displays these symptoms, or has been exposed to a confirmed positive case of COVID, please keep them home and contact your school office for further information and assistance.
Students in Isolation/Quarantine
Our district will continue to use exclusion and isolation protocols for sick students and staff, as well as for those individuals who have a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. Additionally, our school nurses will be working closely with Washington County Public Health to identify and quarantine students and staff exposed as close contacts to a confirmed COVID-19 case. If your student has tested positive or been exposed to a confirmed positive case, please keep your student home and contact the school office for more information. Additionally, in an effort to protect others in our community, as well as to minimize student and staff out-of-school quarantines, please respond quickly to any contact from our schools or school nurses related to contact tracing follow-up.
We are committed to providing students with access to learning during medical or quarantine-related absences. Any absences of 5 days or less will be considered a short-term absence, and will be tended to according to absence procedures used by your school pre-pandemic. For medical or quarantine-related absences lasting longer than 5 days, schools will provide students with access to a more comprehensive learning plan, including access to asynchronous (non-live) and/or online materials via SeeSaw/Canvas (NOTE: this option is not available for non-medical long-term absences, such as family vacations.) If your student is required to isolate or quarantine, please contact your school office for assistance.
To help minimize the spread of COVID in our schools, visitors entering district buildings are restricted to the area(s) necessary for the purpose of their visit (front office for student pickup, bookkeeper for fee payments, etc.). Visitors are not permitted in areas where students are present, such as classrooms, and sign-in/out at the building front office is required. Virtual meetings are highly encouraged, and in-person meetings will be provided on a case-by-case basis.
There will be no indoor volunteers during the school day. Volunteers will be allowed in the building, as needed, after students are dismissed, and are asked to only enter those areas of the building necessary for the purpose of their visit. Sign-in/out at the building front office is required. Outdoor volunteer opportunities may also be available throughout the year.
Any visitors and volunteers on campus must comply with all health and safety protocols, including the use of masks and social distancing of at least 6 feet.
Special Education Recovery Services
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in compliance with Oregon Administrative Rule 581-015-2228, Individualized COVID-19 Recovery Services will be considered at each annual IEP meeting through school year 22-23. Recovery Services are provided to students who made little to no progress on their Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals during Comprehensive Distance Learning, as determined by data collected during this period. Recovery Services will most often be offered in the summer between school years. Families of students who qualify for these services will receive information about dates, times, etc., in the spring.
As always, if you would like an IEP meeting before the annually scheduled date, reach out to your child’s case manager at the school. If you have additional questions, you may also contact a member of the District Student Services team by calling 503-825-5035.
Transportation: Ride 360 App
Our district is excited to announce the Ride 360 app for families to help facilitate their student’s use of school bus transportation. This app will allow you to:
Access the stop location and times
See where the bus is in relation to the stop
Get an approximate arrival time
Receive notifications for your students' bus routes if the bus is running late or other relevant information regarding transportation needs to be distributed
The notifications are route-specific, so you will only see information that affects your student's assigned route. For information on how to sign up, please visit the Transportation Department’s website here.