'We're ready': Lake Oswego students return for new school year
"Getting back and staying back," that was how Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Jennifer Schiele described the mentality for staff as the 2021-22 school year kicked off Monday, Aug. 30.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over — masks are required for students and staff as the delta variant continues to spread in Oregon — LOSD is nonetheless returning to a semblance of normal after students spent much of last year learning remotely.
"We are looking forward to getting back and staying back in school," Schiele said in a message to the community Aug. 27. "We have honed our mitigation strategies to help minimize the spread and exposure to COVID-19. Since last fall, when LOSD started with limited in person instruction, we have had a lot of practice with many of the strategies — masks, distancing, cohorts, ventilation, disinfecting, communicable disease and outbreak protocols, and we have developed plans for new dynamics including meal times, recess and activities."
Students in grades K-5, 6 and 9 returned to school Monday, while those in grades 7-8 and 10-12 were back Tuesday. Of the 6,925 students enrolled for 2021-22, just 150 chose to remain in the fully remote LO Online program while the rest are back to in-person learning, according to LOSD Director of Communications Mary Kay Larson.
"We're adhering to the guidance of 3 feet of distancing in the classroom, which enables us to have all students in class full time," Larson said in an email.
She added that the district is encouraged by local vaccination rates; as of mid-August, 86% of all residents ages 12 and older in Lake Oswego's ZIP codes were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Of the residents aged 12-18, 87% were fully vaccinated. The vaccine is not yet available to kids under the age of 12.
The state requires all school personnel to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, and as of Monday the district had not verified the vaccination status of employees according to Larson.
"We have not had anyone (on staff) say they are not coming back because of that requirement," Larson said.
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