Safe Schools, Ready Learners Update

July 29, 2020

Superintendent Message: Andy Gardner

NSSD Parents:

Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown released new guidelines that Oregon school districts will use to determine if they can safely resume in-person school. The State’s prior guidance in June reflected conditions at that time, when Oregon’s COVID cases were at a low level. During July, Oregon’s COVID cases have increased markedly. The State has closely studied other countries that have re-opened schools to gain an understanding of infection levels and school opening contributed to the spread of the virus. At the present time, Marion County and Linn County are above the conditions that would allow in-person school, and it is unlikely that conditions in the coming month will permit in-person school.

Therefore, the North Santiam School District will be in a Comprehensive Distance Learning Model for the fall quarter of the 2020-21 school year at all schools K-12. The original calendar adopted by the NSSD School Board identifies Oct. 30 as the end date. The District will make the determination by October 5th to return to in-person school in November or to extend distance learning. This will be guided by statewide and county COVID case numbers and test positivity rates, as outlined in the Community COVID Metrics Guidance.

The new guidance allows for school districts in counties with case rates lower than 30 cases per 100,000 residents for three consecutive weeks to conduct school K-3 in-person. Should conditions improve and the District make the decision to have K-3 students in school, the District will notify parents well in advance of this shift.

The District will be conducting parent surveys periodically as needed to help us plan and prepare for the new conditions. Attached you will find a graphic which we hope will make your options in the North Santiam School District clear. We appreciate the parents who have responded to our previous surveys, and we ask all of you to respond if you can to each survey. Our planning greatly improves as a result of timely input from each of you.

Finally, we want to acknowledge our disappointment that schools will not re-open this fall as we have hoped. We know how important schools are to our students as well as our families, and understand that this announcement adds new stress and disappointment to our families. However, we must acknowledge that to open schools with the virus actively circulating would endanger families, students, staff, and could ultimately lead to longer delays in when we can return to normal operations.

Like all of you, we yearn for that time and look forward to our return. Our work now must be-and will be-to deliver the best distance learning that we can.

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