'School is going to look different next year'
Lake Oswego School District School Board Chair Sara Pocklington set the tone of the July 13 work session by stating the job the district is set out to do — opening schools this fall — is a hefty one.
"The issue of reopening our schools amid a global pandemic is hugely complex," Pocklington said.
Superintendent Lora de la Cruz led the board through the guiding principles and timeline for reopening schools. The Roadmap for Reopening, as the district calls it, outlines the framework for health and safety, as well as teaching and learning.
As she introduced the guiding principles to the board, de la Cruz noted that no plan that the district arrives at would be perfect.
"(I want) to just remind all of us and to underline, highlight and circle that school is going to look very different next year. No matter how we plan, no matter what we put in place for reopening, school is going to look different next year," de la Cruz said.
Teaching and learning
Assistant Superintendent Jenn Schiele presented the five learning scenarios the district may implement this coming school year.
The first would be entirely in-person, just as students attended school pre-COVID, but with precautionary measures in place.
The next is a blended model where students attend school in-person for part of the week and online the rest of the time.
The third scenario is what the district is calling the Online Academy.
"When a family has decided that it is not safe for them to come back or they do not feel comfortable for whatever reason ... we are going to keep them in the Lake Oswego School District, but they will be online completely," Schiele said.
The district is also planning to be fully remote.
This model will be live instruction with LOSD teachers on the same bell schedule as if it were the blended model, not outsourced instruction to Fuel Education.
"This is if we have an outbreak in our schools or if at any point the governor says that we must close our schools again, then all teachers will go to fully remote," Schiele said.
The last scenario is for schools to be fully open — which probably won't happen until there is a vaccine that can be given to all students and teachers.
Executive Director of Elementary Programs Frank Luzaich explained what the goal for instruction is on the elementary level.
"It's been our goal from the beginning to try to get students into the classrooms every day," he said.
He said the duration of time is still up in the air.
For 2020-21, Luzaich said, elementary schools will become K-4 schools to create space for physical distancing. Fifth graders will be taught at either Upland or Palisades Elementary school.
"Teachers should be able to differentiate (instruction) better because they'll have fewer students," Luzaich said.
Middle and high school will be working with a blended model of schooling.
The model that the district is currently working with is based on survey feedback from parents and teachers.
"It does have two classes in-person in the morning and two classes online in the afternoon for two grades, and then it flip-flops," Schiele said. She explained that if you have a student at LOHS, they would have two classes at school in the morning, and then they would get a grab-and-go lunch and take two classes at home that afternoon. In one quarter, they'd be taking four classes, adding that they would be taking four different classes in the next quarter. In their third quarter of school, they'd start the second semester of their first-quarter class, and so on. At the end of the school year, students will have completed eight credits, the same as a typical school year.
Luzaich said they knew they'd need a fully online option for families who couldn't or didn't feel comfortable returning to school in-person. The platform the district chose is called Fuel Education, which provides K-12 core, elective and AP content.
"We know nothing can replace our staff and in-person instruction, but Fuel Ed provides the next best option for LO families," Luzaich said.
He said Fuel Education is not a Spanish Immersion program, so students enrolled in Spanish Immersion will have to take a year off the immersion program.
Executive Director of Student Services Patrick Tomblin said students who need special services would be put into cohort co-ops, which means they'll receive specialized instruction in a smaller group within their cohort, and the cohorts would not mix.
He said the district would develop an individual plan for students who can't attend school in-person and for whom the Online Academy is not appropriate.
By August, the district will determine final plans and protocols, and by Aug. 15, the district's plan needs to be submitted to Clackamas Local Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education for approval.
In September, those plans should be fully communicated to the community.
Health and safety
Executive Director of Project Management Tony Vandenberg presented what the district plans to do to keep students, teachers and staff safe while at school.
"We bought a lot of masks," he said.
Specifically, the district has purchased 1,000 cloth masks and plastic 'A' shields.
The district is in the process of setting up classrooms to meet physical distancing requirements.
"We're required to allow 35 square feet per student in classrooms," Vandenberg said.
The district is installing handwashing signage around schools, and each classroom will have disinfecting sprays or wipes as well as hand sanitizer.
Plexiglass will be installed in transaction areas in the offices, and hands-free intercoms will be placed in vestibules.
The district is looking into installing plexiglass in food service areas as well.
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