Hillsboro School District rules out in-person fall start
Following new guidance from the state, the Hillsboro School District announced Tuesday, July 28, there will be no in-person classes at the start of the school year this fall.
"The cases of coronavirus across our country and state continue to escalate and we will not be able to return to in-person learning in the fall," said Superintendent Mike Scott in a letter to families and staff. "We will begin the K-12 school year in Comprehensive Distance Learning on Monday, September 14, therefore, students will not be on campus, but will be learning virtually at least through the first quarter (November 5)."
On Tuesday, Gov. Kate Brown mandated low COVID-19 case thresholds counties and the state must meet in order to teach students in person.
The county in which a school district is located must have 10 or fewer COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and a 5% or less positive test rate per week for three weeks in a row, Brown said.
Additionally, the state must also have 5% or less positive tests as a whole for three consecutive weeks, Brown said.
Two weeks ago, the district announced a draft plan for the coming school year with three options from which families could choose.
With the new guidance, the district removed families' ability to choose a hybrid learning model, in which students go to their neighborhood school two days a week and learn remotely the other three days.
Families now have two options to start the school year: They can enroll their students in the Hillsboro Online Academy, or they can access "comprehensive distance learning," in which students are enrolled in their neighborhood school but do all of their course work remotely.
"We are committed to creating an engaging and rigorous educational experience for all learners through our delivery models," Scott said Tuesday. "We will support our students and families by providing instruction that is culturally responsive, will take into consideration the impact that the pandemic has had on students, and will utilize sound distance learning practices for all of our students."
Comprehensive distance learning will not be the same as distance learning students received in the spring, Scott said.
"It will be a much more in-depth experience for your student," he said.
This fall, students will receive "significantly more teacher-facilitated instruction, more independent and family-supported applied learning, and regular feedback on student progress," Scott said.
He noted that daily and period attendance will be taken, all students will earn grades and high schoolers will earn credits.
Students who enroll in Hillsboro Online Academy will learn using curricula created by outside providers and receive support from district teachers and staff.
Scott said district leaders are in communication with state health and education officials and other district leaders almost daily to discuss plans.
"None of these models offers an ideal response to this complex situation, but our decisions will remain grounded in the care and safety of our students, staff, and community," Scott said.
More than 2,000 people participated in recent question-and-answer sessions with district officials about the options, before the state announced the new metrics Tuesday.
Currently, Washington County is far from meeting the new case thresholds required to teach students in person.
The last time the county's positive test rate was below 5% was June 22. However, it was below 5% each week from April 27 to June 22.
Washington County's weekly case counts have been above the 10 cases-per-100,000 residents threshold since early June.
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