Beaverton to return to in-person school Sept. 8
Beaverton School District students and teachers are slated to be back in the classroom Wednesday, Sept. 8, despite the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state.
Beaverton, along with other local school districts, intends to follow the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority's new Resiliency Framework guidelines on reopening schools during the pandemic.
As the delta variant rages on, Oregon schools are still expected to move full steam ahead toward full-time in-person learning, per these guidelines.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks at school, and classrooms will be set up to comply with the recommended three feet of distance, school district officials said
Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days. Students who come into contact with another student who tests positive for COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they maintained a three-foot distance from them or were fully vaccinated within the last 14 days.
If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 and the school can't prove that they maintained six feet of distance from students, any students showing symptoms will be required to quarantine.
While students are not required to be vaccinated, Beaverton announced on Friday, Aug. 20 that they are requiring staff to provide proof of vaccination.
Exemptions will be made for religious and medical reasons, officials said.
The Oregon Health Authority is not requiring eligible students — ages 12 and up — to get their vaccine, but Beaverton School District officials are asking students to notify them if they have been vaccinated for contact tracing and quarantining purposes, said spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah.
Bailey-Shah wrote in a letter to the community that vaccinated students should upload their vaccination card to the school's website or show their card to the school's front office staff.
"Knowing students' vaccination status will be important when considering possible quarantines," she said.
As familiar as school staff and families have become with them over the past two school years, neither comprehensive distance learning nor hybrid learning will be an option this school year.
School district officials are, however, encouraging students and parents who prefer to learn remotely to enroll in the district's FLEX online school as soon as possible.
There are 586 students enrolled in FLEX as of Aug. 23, according to school district officials.
FLEX is distinct from comprehensive distance learning, as it doesn't try to recreate a typical school schedule online, according to the district's website.
"At FLEX, students work at their own pace through the curriculum," the website states.
FLEX does offer group instruction on some days for elementary school students, while middle and high school students will have time on certain days where teachers can answer questions and help with homework.
While FLEX does allow students flexibility to complete their work on their own time, officials caution that it may not be the best option for students who don't manage their time well or don't feel comfortable asking for help.
One parent, who asked that her name not be used, worries about sending two children back to in-person learning. FLEX, however, has its own limitations for her family.
"The primary reason for FLEX not being a good option for my kids is because we go to a lottery option school," she said. "The Beaverton School District has said that if I enroll my kids in FLEX, they will have to reapply, which means apply and hope that the lottery system works in my favor, when COVID is — hopefully — over in the near future."
The school district's website states that FLEX is designed as a full-year online program, and that students who wish to switch back to an option school later in the year will not have their spot guaranteed.
The same parent also noted that unlike the distance learning model used during the last two school years, FLEX doesn't offer the same classes as the in-person curriculum, such as IB classes and certain electives.
"FLEX, self-admittedly, has a different structure and sets of classes, which will mean another gap in the curriculum they are learning," she said. "No matter how much effort is put into seamlessness, there will always be a difference in curriculum, teaching style and teaching amount. This difference and the subsequent effect on my children's education will undoubtedly be larger than if they were to study online in CDL."
Like-minded parents have started a petition online urging Beaverton School District to offer comprehensive distance learning. As of Monday, Aug. 30, the petition had 534 signatures.
The Beaverton School District has approximately 40,000 students enrolled across its 54 schools, according to the district's website.
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