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Return to school
Pat Jarman
Thursday, January 07, 2021

Dear Harrisburg Middle School Families,

Last week I announced that we would be able to bring students back in for in-person learning. I want to take this opportunity to provide each of you the specifics as to what that will look like for your student(s).

All students will be broken in two cohorts. Your student(s) will either come to the morning AM Cohort from 8:15 - 11:00 or the afternoon PM Cohort from 12:00 - 2:30. We will be placing a strong focus on core instruction (math, science, english, social studies, and health) Band will still be offered in-person to 5th and 6th grade students but will have to remain virtual for our 7th and 8th grade band students. I know this is not ideal but is the best solution that we have with the makeup of our staff and school and still follow social distancing guidelines.

5th and 6th grade students will return to school in a hybrid model on January 11th, 2021. If your student was already coming to school in the AM cohort for their limited in-person instruction model they will be a part of the AM Cohort . If they were coming in during the PM Cohort time they will continue to do so. All 5th and 6th grade students, who qualify for transportation, can be transported for both cohorts.

7th grade students will be welcomed back on campus in a hybrid model starting on January 19th, 2021. We will bring back 8th grade students on January 25th, 2021. 7th and 8th grade students' return dates are being staggered to ensure that we have the necessary resources to adequately clean and disinfect between cohorts. If we need to make adjustments to cleaning schedules or bring in additional resources this gives us a buffer to accomplish this. The safety of students and staff is extremely important and we do not wish to rush students back and risk overwhelming the support staff who do all of the cleaning and sanitizing between cohorts. Again, all students who qualify for transportation, can be transported for both cohorts.Next week teachers will provide students with schedules and cohort information so students know when they are coming to school and what classes they are taking.

When students are not on campus they will still be required to work asynchronously. This will be a combination of homework and accessing additional materials in their google classrooms. You can expect students to spend an average of 120-150 minutes of additional work outside of their in-person school hours.

All students will receive core instruction throughout the week. If a student takes Social Studies, English, and a SEL/Study Hall, on Mondays and Wednesdays, they will then take Math, Science, and Health on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Each student will be provided with a schedule.

AM Cohort students will receive a breakfast and a grab and go lunch before they leave for the day. PM Cohort students will receive a lunch and a grab and go snack before they leave for the day. 

Students will be required to wear facemasks and practice social distancing while on campus. There will be 35 square feet of space between students in classrooms while having an available “mask break” space in each classroom. Desks will be wiped down between classes and the classrooms will be disinfected between cohorts and at the end of the day.

One of the major changes that is being made at the middle school is that students will not be allowed to use lockers. Everything they bring to school must fit within their backpacks. Students, as they transition to classes, will take their backpacks with them. Students will be expected to bring binders with paper, pens and pencils, etc. However, your teacher may require your student to do much of their work on their chromebook to mitigate the amount of paper that is passed between students and their teacher. It is vital to the learning experience that students bring their school issued chromebook, fully charged, to school on a daily basis. If your student(s) did not receive a school issued chromebook please contact the front office and we will get your student a chromebook. Per district policy, students are not allowed to bring their own personal devices (laptops, chromebooks, tablets) to school.

If you do not feel comfortable sending your student(s) to school please contact Karena Smith, our  district HOP Coordinator. Her number is (541) 995-6551 ext. 229. You may also reach her through email at karena.smith@harrisburg.k12.or.us. Contact Karena Smithno later than January 12th.

I know these are major changes and while some of this may be of frustration to you this does get us one step closer to school looking like it used to. Obviously, our goal is to return all students to full time in-person education and we are working towards this goal. This is an important first step. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. I truly appreciate your continued support and patience and we continue to work through this pandemic.