North Santiam School District
August 18, 2021
Message from Supt Gardner regarding 2021-22 School Year
August 18, 2021
As the District moves closer to beginning the year in person, we know that many parents want to know how we will operate during each school year. Our primary goal is to have kids in school where they learn best, to do it with the safety of all students and staff in mind, and to keep our schools functioning. Our plan is due to the Oregon Department of Education on August 27th, and we have multiple details remaining to work out, but we will give an overview of our general intent. We have created schedules for our schools that look like a normal school year.
Following is a general summary of our current plans for how days will look. We emphasize that these plans are subject to change as conditions and requirements change. One positive circumstance as we begin school is that our weather will allow us to be outside for breaks and recesses. If rain is in the forecast, please have your student prepared with warmer clothes, etc.
Mask Requirements: The requirement is to wear masks indoors in school. This is based on the fact that students are required to attend school. This does not extend outdoors, nor does it extend beyond the school day to optional activities such as sports. These general requirements are for students, spectators at indoor events will be addressed further in the document. Students will be required to wear masks on all public transportation including school buses. This is a national requirement and was in effect prior to the State’s indoor mask requirement.
Contact Tracing and Student Exception: The State’s Resiliency Framework does not require quarantine for students who were within three or more feet of another student where both students were engaged in consistent and correct use of well-fitting face coverings. This will allow us a greater chance of success this fall and take students out of school less due to quarantines. Teachers, staff and other adults in the classroom do not qualify for this exception.
Accommodations for Students:
504 Plans and Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s): Students may qualify for accommodations based on a documented condition or learning disability. Parents will need to obtain documentation from their health care provider. The school would set a meeting to determine what accommodations or modifications would be needed for the student to access learning. Students need to be qualified as having a disability prior to discussing accommodations.
Elementary and Middle Schools:
Recess: Recess will be outside where masks will not be required. General spacing will be expected.
Lunch: This detail will be finalized next week for all schools prior to submitting the plan, but will be communicated to you. In general, we will be working on plans to spread students out somewhat, with broad cohorting that remains consistent. For example, students from one class will have a general area in the cafeteria, etc. We are working on how we can create outside seating as well at each school.
In classrooms: We will space students a minimum of 3 feet apart. We are mindful of the need to give students breaks from masking. More information on how we may do that will come from individual schools.
PE: Physical Education classes will begin the year with outdoor activities. This has generally been the case in past years, and will work well to provide safe activity and a mask break.
Lunch: High school lunch will likely include options to eat inside as well as outside with tables placed for that purpose. Students will not be allowed into the halls at lunch as we start the year, but we recognize we will need to adapt as wetter weather arrives. Students who are outside may move around freely, but again some spacing will be expected. Specific expectations will be communicated by SHS.
In Classrooms: Students will be spaced three feet apart. Masks will be required.
Passing Time: Information for specific high school schedules will be communicated as it is developed.
PE: Physical Education classes will begin the year with outdoor activities, masking will be optional.
Band/Choir: Students will be expected to wear masks, but will be able to take their masks off when playing instruments that the mask would interfere with.
Sports and Spectators
Students in sports may wear a mask, but masks are optional. Parents and spectators at contests outside will not be required to wear a mask, but distancing by family units will be expected. Parents and spectators at indoor sporting events will be required to wear a mask. Family units may sit together, but spacing from others will be expected. More details to follow, including visitor spectator expectations.
Students not wearing masks
As we begin the year, we are aware that some students may come to school and refuse to wear a mask. While we do not quarrel with why a family may support their child in this stance, our priorities are to assure staff and student safety, keep kids in school where they learn best, and keep schools running. We are aware that the resiliency framework prohibits discipline for refusing to wear a mask. Students at Stayton High School in multiple classrooms of 25 other students would pose a risk of spread and required quarantines that could quickly disable multiple classrooms and teachers, for example. On August 17, the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority updated the Resiliency Framework to address students without masks with the following statement added:
“In the case that a student or family chooses not to wear a face covering for reasons other than medical need or disability, schools should follow district processes to determine how to
respond keeping in mind both the responsibility for health and safety and the student’s need to access education. Conversations should be progressive and lead to resolution that ideally does not involve suspension. 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.”
Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework, Aug. 17 pg. 8
CDL, On-Line School
The District is committed to offering school in as normal a manner as possible. Last year, staff and students struggled to offer in-person classes while meeting the needs of on-line students at the same time, and the pacing of in-person learning was diminished significantly. As a result, the State no longer requires a simultaneous Comprehensive Distance Learning Model (CDL) to be run simultaneously by in-person instructors. Families who wish to access schools through a distance model will be able to do so by enrolling in NSSD’s Options Academy. You can read more about it at https://www.nsantiam.k12.or.us/domain/492. The District will be sending information to parents regarding Options Academy registration.
As we look forward to the school year, we recognize that there will be significant challenges, and that many aspects of our environment are beyond our control. Here is the District’s primary goal: to offer in-person school for this coming school year. How we achieve that will in all likelihood take flexibility and resilience from all of us—families, staff and students. We are in this boat together. When I hear it said that we want local control, my sense is that most of those people want us here--in this community--to be able to work together to overcome our challenges. This will not be easy, and we will certainly face adversity as cases rise or fall or we lose too many staff to run a school for a period of time. Should it happen, our first priority will be to get the school back open in person. It is my great hope that as we approach this year, we can work collectively to accomplish this common yet simple purpose: keep our kids in school.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -