All elementary students return to the classroom
Kindergarteners through fifth-grade students all have the option to return to the classroom part-time in Newberg and Dundee, a sign of relative normalcy after almost a year of distance learning for many. Kids in all the elementary age groups are coming to class with their cohorts half the time and learning online for the other half, wearing masks and maintaining social distance in the classroom setting.
District communications coordinator Gregg Koskela expressed optimism about the return to partial in-person learning.
"It's going really well," he said. "There's really great energy and excitement from students and staff to actually get back in school. It's not a full house because of cohorts, but it still was a big jump to bring all the grades at the elementary level back. Our staff has done a great job managing it.
"We haven't had too many challenges so far, which is a good sign. We've got marks on the floor, reminders to keep social distance and wear your masks, hand-washing stations, everything set up to keep our kids safe."
Reed Langdon, principal at Dundee Elementary, expressed similar sentiments about the return of all elementary students.
"I'm really impressed with how the students are following social distance protocols," he said. "We started doing a virtual assembly through Google Meet where we discussed what it looks like to stay safe in school, and kids are following those expectations."
Not all families opted to send their kids back to school. Some students remain in the Chehalem Distance Learning (CDL) program, which brought with it some rearranging of online classrooms based on grade level and class sizes.
"CDL is going well also," Koskela said. "In some cases, kids have had to adjust to new teachers and in some cases, they're attending online classes with kids from different schools. That's just how it worked out because we have to make sure kids are staying with the same grade-level teacher."
There have been zero COVID-19 cases among students or staff since elementary students returned to the classroom, Koskela said. Most staff members are fully vaccinated and students are largely following along with the guidelines to keep each other safe.
"We want to remind all families not to send their child to school with any sickness symptoms," Koskela said. "We want to keep everyone healthy, not just from COVID but anything else. If symptoms develop during the day, we have isolation rooms where students can wait to be picked up, but we want parents to know that it's OK for their kids to stay home if they're feeling sick. We just want to minimize any and all potential exposures."
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