Hillsboro School District releases draft plan for fall return
Hillsboro School District officials this week sent families a draft plan of what school could look like in the fall semester.
The plan is based on guidance from state education and health officials about how to limit the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks while effectively instructing students, officials say.
It outlines three options designed to give families a choice of how much, if any, in-person learning they want their students to receive.
One option is a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning, in which most students go to their neighborhood school two days a week and learn remotely the other three days.
Another option, called "comprehensive distance learning," allows students to be enrolled in their neighborhood school but do all of their course work remotely.
A third option allows families to enroll their students in the Hillsboro Online Academy and use established curriculum from outside providers.
The district recognizes that many families don't feel comfortable sending their students to school while SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, continues to circulate in the community, said Beth Graser, a spokesperson for the district.
The options are "necessary because people fall into so many different categories of what they feel comfortable doing," Graser said. "Our preference would be that everybody participates in the hybrid model because we do feel it's important to have those in-person experiences with students."
Graser said Superintendent Mike Scott has instructed staff creating the district's plan for the fall to consider "who does this decision benefit, who does this decision disadvantage. We are asking ourselves that question of equity at every step."
Graser said the district is developing a plan that could allow kindergarteners through second-graders, and potentially up to fourth-graders, to attend in-person school five days a week because "social-emotional growth" is particularly important at that age.
For families who don't choose in-person learning, the district would work to ensure families have access to technology and the support needed to have robust learning five days a week, Graser said. This spring, the district provided about 7,000 Chromebooks as well as mobile internet devices to students.
The district will adjust classroom and other school spaces to allow students attending in-person classes to maintain a six-foot distance between each other, Graser said. Each school will also have extensive sanitation measures in place, and students' temperatures will likely be checked at school, she said. Students attending in-person classes will be encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings while all teachers and staff will wear face coverings unless they have a medical exemption.
The district sent out a mandatory survey to teachers and staff Tuesday, July 14, asking for input about next year and what accommodations they might need to return to work, Graser said.
During the recently concluded school year, the state said districts had to keep paying teachers and staff regardless of whether they were able to continue doing their job with coronavirus restrictions, Graser said.
Next year, if teachers and staff cannot, or choose not to, conduct their required duties, districts will not be required to continue paying their normal salaries.
"If they need reasonable accommodations, (the district) should provide them, but if they can't or won't do (their jobs), then they need to access one of their available leave types," Graser said.
Additional details of the plan are still being developed, Graser said, adding that "there are still a lot of unknowns."
More than 120 people watched a livestream of a Spanish language question and answer session with district officials earlier this week, Graser said, adding that the district will need input from the community.
The district is holding additional questions and answers sessions, including one for staff on Wednesday, July 15, and another for families on Thursday, July 16, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
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