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As schools remain closed, state mandates credited learning as opposed to supplemental education

Just as Lake Oswego School District was preparing to introduce supplemental learning opportunities to students this week, the Oregon Department of Education announced a shift from supplemental education to what it is calling "Distance Learning for All."

The shift, though it sounds inconsequential, is actually a significant change in direction.

The new guidelines from the state mean that students in LOSD, along with every other school district in Oregon, will receive new learning material and assignments that will count towards a grade — all remotely.

"We believe LOSD is well positioned to deliver on this new direction. Much of what ODE is asking districts to deliver is how we in LOSD have already been preparing our teachers, staff, students and families," LOSD Superintendent Lora de la Cruz said in an email to families.

After Gov. Kate Brown extended school closures through April 28 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, ODE originally asked all districts to provide "supplemental education and learning supports" in which no new content would be introduced and nothing would be graded. What would have been provided were learning opportunities to hold students over until schools could reopen. Before districts could provide this, they had to meet a laundry list of requirements by ODE that assured equity and access to things like technology, meals and child care for emergency workers.

LOSD was able to ensure child care, a 1:1 student device ratio, and meals for students in need. The district had a meeting with administrators on Monday and was looking forward to having teachers begin engaging with students this Thursday.

Now the district is working out what these new guidelines will mean on a practical level for students and families.

"We already had a foundation in place to implement pretty robust digital opportunities," de la Cruz said.

For the time being, officials are carrying out their plan to provide supplemental learning this week while they build a foundation for online learning moving forward.

What about graduation?

De la Cruz said she's not sure if or when a high school graduation ceremony will happen, but that the district does want to provide an experience for students, so they're thinking of what that can be. As far as credits go, de la Cruz is confident the district can provide what students need to earn graduation credits. They've identified students who may need extra support and are creating a plan for that.

What about students who need other services?

De la Cruz said the district is still developing plans for students who are emerging English learners, have IEPs and 504s or might want to access mental health services during this time.

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