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The district also shared survey results about inclusivity, accessibility, and respect. 

On Monday, Feb. 7, the Lake Oswego School board met for nearly four hours to discuss bond updates, new mask requirements and how the district can be inclusive to all.

Updates on face-covering requirements

The Oregon Health Authority announced Sunday, Feb. 6 that by the end of March, Oregon will lift its mask requirement. At that point, individual school districts will be left to decide if they will keep mask mandates in place.

During the board meeting, Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Jennifer Schiele announced that the administration has yet to decide if Lake Oswego schools will lift indoor face-covering mandates. Schiele said that the district will be assessing the effects of lifting the requirement and engaging with key stakeholders — including educators, students, families and Lake Oswego Education Association leadership — to determine the best outcome.

Earlier this week, the district announced that elementary students no longer needed to wear face coverings during outdoor activities.

Creating a culture of belonging

After discussions that took place during several recent meetings, the board approved district-wide definitions of the words "diversity," "equity," "inclusion," "access" and "anti-bias."

The definitions are as follows:

Equity: "Giving every member of our learning community the distinct opportunities, supports, and resources they need to develop and thrive."

Access: "Providing diverse pathways and necessary supports that remove physical and/or other barriers to ensure meaningful educational opportunities and equitable outcomes for all people."

Diversity: "Acknowledging, understanding, and celebrating all the characteristics and experiences that make people different from one another."

Inclusion: "Recognizing every individual as an essential part of the learning community with a right to authentic, meaningful participation and decision making."

Anti-bias, anti-racism: "Actively challenging stereotyping, prejudice, and all forms of discrimination to create a community that supports all dimensions of human differences, including culture, race, language, ability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, socioeconomic, and other areas of social differences."

Board member Neelam Gupta said that definitions were starting points for the district's mission to be an inclusive learning environment for all.

"I'm really glad that we have these definitions in language that everyone can understand and has contributed to," Gupta said.

Board member Liz Hartman reminded the community that the definitions are a "living document" and may update over time.

"That is the one true thing about diversity, equity and inclusion work: It is always progressing and advancing as the dialogue and the community grows as well. Nothing is static," said Board Chair Kirsten Aird.

Addressing needs of students through data

On average, about 75% of secondary students in Lake Oswego feel like adults respect people from various races and ethnicities, according to a district-wide survey.

During the board meeting, Schiele introduced the results of the Youth Truth Survey, a district-wide action that questions students about inclusivity and acceptance. Elementary, middle and high school students took part in one survey, while another survey was dedicated to teachers' responses.

COURTESY PHOTO: LAKE OSWEGO SCHOOL DISTRICT - During the 2020-2021 school year, students took the YouthTruth Survey, which asks questions related to respect, identity and belonging.

The survey asked students and educators yes or no questions relating to respect, identity and appreciation.

One survey result showed that 80% of secondary students said, "adults respect people from different sexual orientations", but only 50% believed their peers "valued people with different orientations."

During the staff survey, teachers ranked their peers highly. One response said that about 95% of elementary, middle, and high school staff believe adults have respect for students. Another said that only about 55% of high school educators believe "adults respect people from different races and ethnicities."

Staff also responded about their students.

Both elementary and middle school staff responded that they believe only 45% of students value people from different sexual orientations. And only 45% of secondary teachers believe students value people with different abilities.

After presenting the survey results, Executive Director of Student Services Scott Schinderle, Human Resources Director Donna Atherton and Executive Director of curriculum and instruction, LaKeyshua Washington outlined ways the district strives to be an anti-racist entity.

Some of the actions were creating curriculum, resources and training for students and staff, as well as developing diverse leadership that is representative of the student body.

Aird said that the feedback from students and staff, as well as learning about the different ways the district is engaging in equity work, helps illuminate how the district can improve.

"This is where we are, but this is not where we want to end," said Aird.

Bond updates

The board approved several bond-related actions proposed by Tony Vandenberg, executive director of project management.

CVE Technologies Group Inc., a Tigard-based computer security service, was selected as the company to complete technology infrastructure upgrades at LO schools, specifically for building security. This will be the last technology update included in the 2017 bond measure funding.

CVE's bid for the work was $645,367.80.

First Cascade Corporation, a Lake Oswego contracting company, was approved to update Lake Oswego High School's interior for a total sum of $2,074,270.00. Paradigm Construction, a Seattle-based company, was approved to update the inside of Lakeridge High School for a little over $1.6 million. The company will improve classrooms, infrastructure and technology related to the culinary arts program.

Staff bonuses

Schiele also announced to the board that educators and staff will receive a $500 bonus in their Feb. 24 paycheck for their hard work of keeping schools open.

"These bonuses are intended to thank all current employees, from the custodian who prepares our classrooms every evening to the teacher who covered other classrooms during their own prep period," Schiele said.

The school board will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 6:00 p.m.

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