North Santiam School District
May 11, 2021
Message from the Superintendent
As we move toward the end of the year, we want to make you aware of the District’s plans for the 2021-22 school year. We want to confirm that our planning intends that the District will be on a normal school calendar with students attending in-person, five full days per week. We believe that some level of COVID safety requirements will be in effect, and our work now focuses on how we will adapt to those and still have students in class all day with a regular schedule. We want to be clear to you in our commitment to our students’ return.
We recognize that there will still be families who are reluctant for their children to return to in-person learning. The District has established a new school specifically for distance learning named North Santiam Options Academy that uses a largely virtual platform. For 2021-22, the District has added new on-line curriculum offerings so parents can choose between programs. The District does not have the authority to require vaccinations, so we do not see a point where all students will be vaccinated, and it is certain that the COVID virus will continue to circulate in future years. A parent who has concerns about exposures or conversely, a mask mandate, is strongly encouraged to consider on-line learning as a long-term option.
The District will survey parents with students who are currently only learning from home by tuning into live classrooms (Comprehensive Distance Learning) to determine their plans for the coming year. We do not intend to offer CDL as an option for grades 7-12 for the fall, unless an executive order requires it. We are currently considering options for CDL at the elementary level (K-6) that would not require the same teacher to instruct both on-line and in-person students at the same time. As vaccinations become available to elementary students, the District intends to phase out CDL.
Our intent will be to eventually shift all students who do not wish to return to in-person learning to Options Academy. At that time, Comprehensive Distance Learning will not be offered unless we are directed by the State to continue to offer it as an option.
While it remains a personal choice, we continue to encourage families to have their students vaccinated as it becomes available at their child’s age level. The District has no intention of requiring a vaccine, but we believe that contact-tracing from cases will continue in the fall and therefore, as will quarantines. One of the District’s primary values in its work has been to plan systems that can run without significant disruption. We have received many phone calls from parents whose lives and jobs have been disrupted by quarantines. While we respect your right to choose to vaccinate or not, we emphasize that from a practical perspective, having your student(s) vaccinated will mean that the possibility of a quarantine is eliminated.
We want to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the families of our community. We know that it has been difficult, and has taken time, energy and a constant change to schedules. This communication is to signal our commitment to moving forward in a normal schedule, and to overcoming the barriers to make this happen. The simple but difficult truth is that, for the foreseeable future, the COVID 19 Virus will be present and for us to be successful, it will take everyone working together. We believe whole-heartedly that our staff, students and families possess the fortitude to make it happen.
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