Dear Harrisburg Community,
The Harrisburg School Board met last night and discussed this upcoming 2021-2022 school year. They are excited to have more of a semblance of “normal” this coming year. With Oregon Department of Education, ODE giving local control and decision making for many of the COVID related health protocols our school board voted on the following items. We will have classrooms full with in-person learning beginning this fall. We know this is best for our students and staff mentally, and academically. All facemask use will be voluntary for adults and students. Masks make it more difficult to read facial expressions and understand people. They make it more difficult to communicate and for children to learn. Also, we should remember that children are at a lower risk of contracting COVID -19.
The district will not ask for proof of vaccination or require staff and students receive the vaccination in order to attend school or report to work. The recommended social distancing of three feet will not be possible in every classroom nor lunchroom, but staff will adhere to it whenever possible during the school day. Students will use the cafeteria once again for lunch. Staff and students will practice proper cough techniques and continue the hand washing practice after lunch, recess and when arriving to school. The custodians will continue the sanitizing of surfaces in the building. We will continue the practice of keeping a cohort log for contract tracing purposes and we will not focus on cohort size. Each building is required to have an isolation area available in case of a sick or symptomatic case. Our school district must adhere to the Linn County Public Health Department quarantine guidelines and will use their guidance if an outbreak does happen.
There was some discussion concerning the airflow and circulation in each classroom. One of the bond projects that was deferred for a later date from our bond project priority discussions was replacing our furnaces at the elementary school and adding HVAC in more of the classrooms. We can use ESSER funds to begin replacing some of the HVAC system in our buildings. This will provide cleaner airflow in the classrooms creating a safer place for everyone.
The school board will continue the ESSER fund use discussion at their August 9 board of directors meeting. The school district has scheduled the evening of Tuesday, August 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose room at the high school. This event is to explain the criteria for using the ESSER funds recently released to the state from the Federal government. Community engagement is an important component of developing the school districts plan. Following this meeting, we will have a thought exchange for people to express their thoughts and ideas. The district must submit a plan to ODE by August 22, 2021. Please understand that this is an evolving process with the end goal of serving all of our students best interests.