Ready Schools, Safe Learners

July 28 Update and Survey

Message From Mr. Gardner

As the month of July draws to a close, Oregon public schools face a rapidly-changing situation. Here in the North Santiam School District, we have been engaged in planning throughout the summer for multiple options for your students’ education this fall. During the month of July Oregon has seen increasing cases, which creates uncertainty about the District’s ability to offer in-person instruction to begin school. The Governor’s requirement for all students and staff to wear masks certainly can help schools to be safer, but this step underscores that the growth in cases is increasingly putting traditional in-person school at risk. This communication is to update you on the District’s plan and options at this time, and the timeline for further decisions. The District is asking parents to respond to a survey using the link provided below, and we urge you to participate, as this can assist us to be better prepared.

The District is currently planning to offer in-person school every day to all elementary students (grades K-5). Students in grades 6-12 will attend every other day on an A-B schedule, with 3 days one week, 2 days the next week. The District will continue to schedule a PLC late start on Mondays. This will be a hybrid model, with students and staff prepared to move to a Comprehensive Distance Learning Model if conditions require it. The District is planning to return students, should we start the year “In Person”, on September 14. This will allow all staff to be thoroughly trained in safety procedures and prepare for a hybrid model.

At the same time, we recognize that Covid cases have increased significantly in the last month. Particularly concerning is the fact that almost half of the cases are untraceable to a business or event, which indicates that the virus is circulating widely. If conditions warrant, instruction in the Hybrid model may begin via distance learning.

Separately, the District is in the process of setting up an on-line school for students K-12. This will provide on-line instruction using Fuel Education curriculum and delivery, where students will proceed through designed on-line curriculum. Note that this is a separate model from the District’s hybrid model, which could be in or out of regular school. Information regarding the District’s on-line school can be found at this link.

The District must submit its Operational Blueprint for Reentry for each of our buildings to the Oregon Department of Education by August 15. We intend to publish each building’s plan for parents to see no later than August 7, we will send you a link to allow you to view the plan. Please be aware that the publishing of our Blueprints, which will focus on “In-Person” school safety procedures, does not mean that we have ruled out a Comprehensive Distance Learning Model.

Our best planning will occur with the input of parents. We are asking that all parents take the time to respond to the survey below. This helps us understand your current concerns and intentions, and can help us efficiently plan for the upcoming year.

Andy Gardner, Superintendent

Additional Information (Repeat from July 2 Newsletter)

North Santiam School District has been very busy over the last four weeks responding to the first and second version of the “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidance provided by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Each building is developing a specific Operational Blueprint, which focuses on maintaining student safety. Due to the limitations set forth in the guidance document, all Oregon schools are facing many challenges to bring students Onsite every day. The Operational Blueprint will be provided to the NSSD Board of Directors, the Local Health Authority, ODE, and posted to our website by August 15. The next updated guidance from ODE will be released on August 11.

The District has three models to choose from: Onsite, Hybrid, and Distance Learning. The District is pursuing Onsite for K-5, Hybrid for 6-12. While schools will not look the same, and our students and staff will be faced with new challenges, we know the strength and dedication of the North Santiam staff will enable students to have a successful 2020-21 school year. “Doing what’s best for All Kids” is our driving principle.

Each Operational Blueprint must include details on how the school will meet ODE and OHA requirements.

Key Factors in the guidance:

  • 35 square feet of area per student in a classroom (required) and 3 feet between students on busses (recommended)

  • Putting our students together in “cohorts” to ensure we limit exposure between students, to support quick contact tracing if an outbreak were to occur. Cohorting refers to a consistent group of students that stays together for the duration or part of the school day in order to reduce the spread of COVID 19

  • Specific cleaning and disinfection schedules

  • Screening protocols for students, which will impact morning arrival and dismissal procedures

Overview of Blueprint Requirements by ODE (Updated)

  • The District will have a compliant Disease Management Plan that specifically addresses the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

  • Plans and protocols will be in place for the systematic disinfection of classrooms, offices, and bathrooms. Additional protocols are in place when new cohorts enter an area (library, playground etc.)

  • Staff will have cleaning protocols when they switch cohort groups.

  • Students will be screened for symptoms as they enter the building.

  • Students will have specific arrival times and entry points into the building.

  • Plans will be in place to immediately isolate any student or staff showing symptoms.

  • All students will be tracked by their different cohort groups to ensure contact tracing can occur quickly and efficiently if we have an outbreak.

  • Students with high-risk health conditions will have individualized plans.

  • All students will wash their hands prior to eating meals.

  • Most meals will be served in the classroom to limit the mixing of cohorts.

  • Students will be taught physical distancing in all daily activities.

  • When needed, student tables will have plastic barriers to limit exposure.

  • Students will not share equipment or supplies to the maximum extent possible.

  • Students in grades 6-12 will be issued a Chromebook for home use on off days.

Updated from new guidance:

  • All Students and Staff will be required to wear a mask or face shield.

  • Students cannot be part of any single cohort, or part of multiple cohorts that exceed a total of 100 people within the educational week. Schools should plan to limit cohort sizes to allow for efficient contact-tracing and minimal risk for exposure