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Education Update
Bryan Starr
Thursday, July 30, 2020

Education update

July 30, 2020

I hope that all of you are enjoying the summer sunshine the past few weeks.  Many of you are asking or wondering what is happening with our schools this fall.

  • On Wednesday, July 22, Governor Brown gave an update on reopening schools.  She told us that more changes might be coming for school districts, especially those in the seven hot spot counties.  Linn County is not in that group.  Brown further restricted the number of students to a cohort per classroom and the total number of people kids could come into contact with per week which was 100.  Finally and most importantly, everyone must wear a face covering; all adults and all students k-12.
  • In a statewide Superintendents meeting Tuesday, July 21, we learned that the Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature wants to fund our schools at full strength.  This translates to the $9 billion for the state school fund and about 30% of the Student Investment Account money.  Our share would have been $700,000, but will be reduced to approximately $210,000.  Finally, the High School Success Act or Measure 98 funds will be 100% funded.  To be funded to this degree is an excellent announcement for the District.  The final decision will be determined in the special session sometime in August.
  • On Tuesday, July 28, Governor Brown gave another update on reopening schools.  She told us that in order to have On-site or a Hybrid learning models, the metrics below, which consider local as well as statewide conditions must be met:
    • Schools must be in a county that is no longer in the baseline phase to consider in-person instructional models.
    • County Metrics – metrics must be met three weeks in a row:
      • Case rate: <10 cases per 100,000 population in the preceding 7 days
      • Positive test rate: <5% in the preceding 7 days
    • State Metric – metric must be met three weeks in a row:
      • Positive test rate: <5% in the preceding 7 days

Exceptions

The following exceptions should be prioritized, provided that:

  • COVID-19 is not actively spreading among school community;
  • The case rate in the county is <30 cases per 100,000 population in the preceding 7 days for the past three weeks;
  • The positive test rate in the county is <5% in the preceding 7 days for the past three weeks; and
  • Schools fully comply with sections 1-3 of the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance.

Exceptions that relate to us in Harrisburg:

  1.  Providing in-person education for students in kindergarten through third grade.  It is expected that schools will offer in-class options for students in grade k-3 to the extent possible.  Younger students get the virus at lower rates, get less sick when they get COVID-19, and seem to spread the virus less than older children or adults.  Younger students also need access to in-person instruction to build literacy and numeracy skills critical to their continued learning.
  2. As per ODE’s Comprehensive Distance Learning guidance, providing limited on-site instruction to meet needs of specific groups of students based on needed educational, relational, curricular, instructional, and/or assessment supports.  This includes, but is not limited to, provisions for supporting students experiencing disability, as well as programs such as career technical education (CTE) that may require hands-on demonstration of skills and the provision of secure assessment environments.

Given the latest mandates from Governor Brown, we had to change our planned reopening of schools blueprint.  We will have Comprehensive Distance Learning for grades 5-12 through the first nine weeks of the school year (November 5).  I hope that by then we can begin on-site learning in some fashion.  We are planning to provide more professional learning for our teachers.  The high school will use Canvas as a learning management system.  This allows students the opportunity to track their assignments and observe all classes on one screen.  In addition to more training for teachers, we are planning to provide more training for our students and families.

The reopening planning committee will meet on Thursday, August 6 to finish the details of an ever-changing plan.  We hope to have our k-4 grades to be in-person to some degree if possible.  The school board has to approve the plan at the August school board meeting.  Following this meeting, I will post the plan on our website.  We have an online option for families with our Harrisburg Online program.  If you are interested in this option, you must commit to a full semester.  Visit our website and click on the HOP logo for more information.

More to come on athletics as Oregon Scholastic Activities Association or OSAA continues to evaluate the health and safety of the fall season.