Students won't be returning to classrooms in the Beaverton School District anytime soon, families learned Tuesday, July 28.
The school district announced its latest return-to-school plan on its Facebook page that includes a decision to move to a full online model in the fall.
The online post also said that the first day of school for students will be Monday, Sept. 14.
"With the exception of students who've opted for FLEX Online School, all students will be learning online from home with their regular neighborhood or option schools," district officials said in the statement. "We're committing to remain in a comprehensive distance learning model through November 13. We're providing these dates so that parents can make any necessary work or childcare arrangements."
All daily coursework, lessons and learning tasks in grades K-12 will be delivered through Seesaw or Canvas by neighborhood or option schoolteachers, according to the district's website. With guidance from the Oregon Department of Education, the district will measure attendance with participation in class activities and interaction with a teacher.
FLEX Online School, which is a separate online school through the Beaverton School District, is designed to be a long-term option for families who want a full online learning experience for their children. The FLEX Online School enrollment window has been extended to Friday, July 31.
The Beaverton School District also mentioned new school health and safety metrics announced by Gov. Kate Brown in a press conference on Tuesday, July 28.
In order to resume in-person school this fall, Oregon counties and the state as a whole must meet a low threshold of COVID-19 cases that only one county currently meets.
The county in which a school district is located must meet these standards for three weeks in a row: 10 or fewer COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and a positive test rate of 5% or less, according to Brown's new mandate. The state must also have 5% or less positive tests as a whole for at least three weeks, the new rule states.
The rule is slightly less strict for kindergarten through third-grade classes, or rural school districts with fewer than 100 students. Those grades and school districts can reopen in-person education if their home counties have 30 or fewer COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over seven days, the mandate states.
Not only are younger children less likely to catch, show symptoms of or transmit COVID-19 to others, but in-person learning is more crucial at that age, said state health officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger.
"These younger students need access to in-person education to develop literacy and numeracy skills they need that are critical to their continued learning," Sidelinger said at the press conference.
However, an area that meets these standards at first but later has an uptick in COVID-19 cases could be forced to transition back to at-home distance learning.
School districts must make distance learning plans if the local county has 20 or more COVID-19 cases in a week and/or 7.5% or more of COVID-19 tests in the county are positive. Districts will immediately return to distance learning if the local county has 30 or more COVID-19 cases in a week and 10% or more of local COVID-19 tests are positive.
"Let me be really clear: I am absolutely unwilling to lose an entire school year for any of our kids," Brown said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. "But it is also incumbent on all of us … to take every measure to slow the spread of this disease so we can get our kids into school as quickly as possible."
Based on guidance from the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority in addition to the latest health data, Beaverton School District Superintendent Don Grotting will then decide when and if students can return to school in a hybrid model.
The hybrid model would allow students to be at school two days per week and three days per week online. English-language newcomers and some students in specialized programs would be eligible for additional in-person instruction on Wednesdays, said the district's website.
As for face coverings, the district is following guidance from the Oregon Department of Education.
"Face coverings will be required (and provided) for all K-12 students and staff when we return to school in a hybrid model," added the district in the statement.
The Beaverton School District also released information regarding high school and option school schedules.
In a normal school year, students take seven classes per semester referred to as a "Straight 8 or A-B Schedule," in which classes meet every other day.
"Survey results from families indicated that this course load was unmanageable in an online environment during the spring," explained the district. "We investigated a 4x4 model which would have students taking only four courses per semester; those classes would meet every day. As a result, a student could cover a year's worth of material in one semester and receive the same number of credits as in previous school years. We believe the 4x4 model best meets the needs of our high school students in this current environment. However, because option schools encompass grades 6-12, option schools will be better served by an A/B model."
The schools with a "Straight 8/A-B Schedule" for the entire 2020-21 school year include the Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, The School of Science and Technology or BASE, and International School of Beaverton.
The following schools will be on a "Straight 8/A-B Schedule": Aloha, Beaverton, Mountainside, Southridge, Sunset and Westview.
Merlo Station High School is the only school on a "6 Weeks/5 Periods Schedule."
This decision is consistent with the majority of school districts around the state, according to the Facebook post.
"With any schedule, we understand that there are pros and cons, especially in remote learning," added the statement. "Please know that our principals will work with BSD's curriculum, instruction and assessment department, school staff and other districts to implement best practices and structures to meet the needs of academic programs such as IB, AP and AVID. We're confident that our students will receive the support needed to do well in all of our class offerings."
For more information, visit beaverton.k12.or.us/return-to-school .
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