The Lake Oswego School District made major strides in its reopening plan Monday evening with approval from the board on three major aspects.
The board voted to approve the elementary hybrid model, the online-only option called "LO Online'' and the fully-remote virtual opening of schools. The board also voted to give authority to Superintendent Lora de la Cruz to decide when to transition from remote to the hybrid option, as well as when to revert to fully-remote if state metrics dictate it as a necessity.
She said she knows everyone wants to have a normal back-to-school season.
"Right now what we need to focus on the most is how to reopen safely," de la Cruz said.
The decision came with full knowledge that state officials would give districts guidance on new metrics as early as Tuesday, July 28.
De la Cruz said they are making decisions with the information they have at the time and they will adjust as needed when new information surfaces.
In the a.m./p.m. elementary hybrid model, 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. All elementary school students will receive math and English lessons in person and other lessons — such as social studies, music and P.E. — virtually.
The board decided which half of students would attend in-person a.m. classes and which would attend p.m. classes by flipping a coin. If the coin was heads, students with last names starting in the second half of the alphabet would go first. If it was tails, students with last names starting in the first half of the alphabet would go first.
Board member Kirsten Aird did the honors, and there was a brief moment of levity when she first tried to use a Chuck-E-Cheese coin (acquired prior to the pandemic, she noted) before remembering both sides were the same.
The coin was tails up, meaning students whose last names are in the first half of the alphabet will attend in-person class in the morning. How the alphabet at each school will split will be dependent on enrollment.
The district is offering an extended school day option for working parents who absolutely need it. De la Cruz said they will strive to keep students in their home schools — in either the library or the gym — for the extended school day and will also work to keep students in the same cohorts. There will be up to 10 students to a space, supervised by LOSD staff.
Board chair Sarah Pocklington said that she's heard from working parents that want to form cohorts to share the work of mid-day transportation and childcare. She asked if schools would work to align cohorts so working families can provide childcare.
De la Cruz said that families can work with principals and that schools would offer flexibility to working parents, but they cannot promise to accommodate child care cohorts made outside of the district.
Assistant Superintendent Jenn Schiele added that the district will send out a list of county child care resources as well.
LO Online is a program offered by LOSD. It's 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.
"What we don't know right now is: Will we need to be in virtual learning mode for longer than two weeks?" de la Cruz said.
The state was set to provide new metrics Tuesday for when in-person school is possible.
"We don't need to have emergency board meetings every other week," board member John Wallin said.
Knowing that, at any point in the school year, the district might have to transition from in-person to remote learning or vice versa, the board voted to delegate authority on when to transition in between fully-remote and hybrid model learning to the superintendent — based on metrics and guidance from the state.
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