Harrisburg School Community
Today, one year ago Oregon had it's first documented COVID-19 patient. This has certainly been a most challenging year for everyone as we have all had new and ever changing responsibilities due to shifting the state guidelines. We have all had to reset and adjust to new expectations several times as Governor Kate Brown changed and modified school standards. This resulted in emotional and mental uncertainty, stress, fear, and lapses in communication as Ready Schools, Safe Learners from Oregon Department of Education, ODE guidance and procedures were developed. We are on version 5.6.2 of the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance from ODE which was released on February 19, 2021. The frequent changes were from imposed requirements that we often had to make adjustments so our plans complied with the latest guidance.
Various community members have reported hearing repeated concerns expressed similarly:
- Teachers would prefer to work from home and take a paycheck.
- Teachers don’t deserve the pay since I am (parent) is doing all of the work the teacher normally did.
- I’m not paying my taxes since I’m doing all of the teaching.
These statements indicate both the level of frustration and perhaps helplessness of some parents. The following explanations should shed light on what we did and why. Our teachers had to be very resourceful a year ago as they developed ways to provide education through distance learning in a two-week period. When we began remote distance learning it was very hard for both teachers and families. Both teachers and parents had to begin down a path they were not trained nor did they really ever sign up for, but for our students they persevered. Our teachers have continued learning new and better ways of using the virtual formats in order to connect with their students.
Our elementary principal, Mrs. Geddes, successfully opened our school for k-3 in September of 2020. She worked hard “thinking outside the box” organizing the building while fulfilling all of the safety protocols. The students and staff are enjoying a different in-person learning environment than in previous years. As Oregon Department of Education, (ODE) and Oregon Heath Authority, (OHA) guidelines changed so did some of our processes. Everyone has had to remain flexible many times this school year. Our school board understandably was under much pressure from the community to reopen all of our schools.
In order to reopen our schools we had to meet the mandated metrics provided by ODE/OHA and our governor. Once the governor changed the metrics from mandatory to advisory on December 23, 2020, the Harrisburg staff moved quickly to bring back our upper grades. This was only possible because of the success we had with our k-3 in-person since September 8, 2020.
Currently, we have all grades in-person learning of some form. Our kindergarteners and grades 5-12 are in a hybrid model of AM/PM. The district leaders made the decision to see every student every day. We must provide time in the day to thoroughly sanitize the school buildings between the AM and PM cohorts. Teachers are providing instruction synchronously and asynchronously as they work a full day. Our staff deeply care about the students and families and have been working tirelessly. Thank you for your patience as all of us adjusted to an unprecedented school year.