Reopening Schools Update
From the Sherwood School District
January 22, 2021
Oregon Releases Updates to K-12 Metrics and Guidance
On Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Education released updates to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance that informs the practices and protocols for all Oregon schools as they prepare for in-person instruction. Among the most significant updates to the guidance was a change in the K-12 reopening metrics, which use county case rates and test positivity rates to determine the capacity of schools in that county to reopen safely. Click on the image below for more information.
As you can see in the chart above, these metrics look at case and test positivity rates over a 14-day period. The major change to this guidance is the alignment of category levels with the recommendations of the Harvard Global Health Institute. These metrics allow for schools to reopen under higher levels of case rates, and advise schools to focus on a “phasing in” approach, starting with the youngest students and then adding additional grades over time as long as case rates remain stable or decline. The new metrics provide schools with a greater ability to make local decisions, and create opportunities for districts to bring students back to in-person instruction sooner than the previous metrics would allow.
Additional changes within the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance include alignment with the safety guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, clarification on face covering requirements, and new guidance on outdoor learning spaces. To review the most recent version of Ready Schools, Safe Learners, please click here.
January 20th Board of Directors Meeting
Following the release of the update on Tuesday, District staff met with our Board of Directors on Wednesday, January 20, to review these changes and share a proposed, tentative timeline for beginning to reopen our elementary schools. This tentative model includes a week of professional development and planning for our teachers, during which there would be no school for grades K-5. This week is an essential part of the timeline, allowing our elementary teachers the time necessary to receive training on required safety protocols, as well as prepare for the transition back to in-person instruction, prior to students returning to buildings. We are working closely with our elementary schools to determine the best timing for this week to occur, and will be announcing the date for that week as soon as it is determined.
Once the professional development week is completed, in-person instruction will start on an identified date using the “phased in” approach recommended in the metrics. This would start with a “transition” week for grade K-3, while grades 4-5 continue in the CDL model. Two weeks later, grades 4-5 would return for their own “transition week.” As per the metrics recommendations, our middle and high school levels will continue in CDL -- while continuing to expand Limited In-Person Instruction offerings -- as we continue to monitor case rates. Here is an example of how this “phasing in” model will work:
Our Board of Directors expressed support of this model, and they also established five conditions we must meet as a district before initiating elementary Hybrid in-person instruction. Those five principles are:
While the K-12 metrics are advisory, we must still meet those metrics to initiate the Hybrid model of in-person instruction.
Case rates will not reflect a surge in cases, as evidenced by a downward trend in case rates.
Staff must have the opportunity to access their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as complete the two-week post-vaccine period for the dose to take effect, before initiating the Hybrid model of in-person instruction.
The District shall try to minimize mid-year disruption for students, while allowing maximum flexibility to move between the Hybrid and Cloud Campus models.
This is a community effort, and the District will take steps to communicate and educate our stakeholders on the necessity to embrace safety protocols and work together to support a safe reopening of our schools.
With consideration of these five principles, the Board of Directors identified February 22, 2021 as the goal date for Week 1 of the tentative reopening model. The Board will continue to meet weekly to review metrics and county case rate data, consider the application of the five principles listed above, and evaluate progress toward the identified goal date. Please watch for meeting announcements under News and Announcements on our website (found here) and our on Facebook and Twitter pages. All meetings will be available via live stream at our YouTube channel, found at https://bit.ly/39VlhD3, as well as recordings of previous meetings.
With this guidance from our Board of Directors, we will be updating our Operational Blueprints and finalizing all of the logistics involved with reopening our schools. Please stay tuned for details from the District and from your student’s school in the weeks ahead, with all of the information you and your student will need.