Lake Oswego schools will start remotely this fall
More than 2,000 people tuned in to the July 13 Lake Oswego School Board work session to hear how the district was going to reopen schools — an increase in viewership of 400%, according to the district.
With major engagement comes major feedback. That's why when the board members came back together on Monday, July 20, they had a number of revisions to their original reopening proposal.
The changes included a reimagining of the online-only option, a new elementary hybrid model and a change to the K-12 in-person start date.
"After extensive planning and volumes of feedback through surveys and focus groups, emails, video calls, phone calls, our district leadership team has gone back to the drawing board a number of times to land on a proposal that we feel best meets the needs of our community," Superintendent Lora de la Cruz said.
Teachers and staff were surveyed after the initial proposal. De la Cruz said they heard many concerns that brought them to this iteration, which will be the final version of the reopening plan.
"The most critical aspect is that teachers and staff did not feel safe with the plan. … In order to staff our schools, it's critical that the adults who staff our schools feel absolutely safe," she said.
De la Cruz said they've focused their planning on safety, health and the district's equity lens.
The first change announced at the meeting was that all LOSD schools will be fully online for the first two weeks.
"At this time we simply do not have confidence that COVID is being contained in our state in a way that we can establish the beginning of the school year in person," de la Cruz said.
She said the decision to push the in-person start date is a weighty one.
"Like many in our country we had high hopes to start in person, but given our current reality we feel that it is most responsible to start differently," she said.
Assistant Superintendent Jenn Schiele brought the new elementary school proposal to the board — a hybrid model instead of the in-person plan that originally was proposed. She said the switch to a hybrid model came from concerns heard from the community about students sitting for six hours with little movement, a lack of interventions for struggling students, large class sizes in Spanish Immersion, and the removal of both specialists and innovation activities.
Schiele said the hybrid model is similar to the model at the secondary level, with morning and afternoon classes. Cohorts of students will arrive for three hours of in-person instruction in the morning, and then take a grab-and-go lunch with them on their way home to take part in three more hours of remote instruction in the afternoon. Other cohorts of students will have remote instruction in the morning and in-person instruction in the afternoon. The students who have in-person instruction in the afternoon will get their lunch first, eat it at a designated location where they can be physically distanced and then begin class.
In this model, all K-5 students will be able to stay at their neighborhood schools because students will be using the school building in shifts.
The district is offering an extended care program at Uplands and Palisades, for a fee.
It's unclear yet if the district will be able to provide transportation to the extended care sites because all district busses may need to be used to transport a.m./p.m. students to and from their schools.
The new online option the district is proposing is called LO Online. This is the model for families who do not wish to participate in the hybrid model. This option will include both live and recorded forms of instruction. Unlike the previously proposed LOSD Academy, which would have used services from Fuel Education, LO Online will be taught by LOSD teachers, using LOSD curriculum. Teachers will be selected through an application process and based on student enrollment. Families are asked to commit to one quarter when registering for this option.
The week of Aug. 25, staff members will begin their professional development for the year. Areas of training will include COVID health and safety training, digital teaching, universal design for learning, Character Strong social emotional learning, anti-racism, trauma-informed practices and new technology.
Parents also will receive training in how to support their children through digital learning.
The week of Aug.31 will round out professional development and planning.
Students will have teacher introductions and device pickup from Sept.2-4, and the district will begin school remotely Sept. 8.
"It is our hope that we will begin our new a.m./p.m. hybrid system on Sept. 21 for all students who chose the hybrid model," Schiele said.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.