In the latest chapter in a return to a version of normal for the community, students at Newberg High School and area middle schools returned to the classroom on April 19 for hybrid learning.
Their return brought with it some serious logistical challenges for school and district officials, but things are running smoothly so far, district communications coordinator Gregg Koskela said.
"I think the start has gone really well," he said. "One major thing I've heard from staff is the joy and 'I can't believe how much I've missed this.' People are feeling good about having things back in-person. The complexity of making this happen at the secondary level has been a ton of work by our counselors and administration."
District and school staff had to work together to plan out each student's individual schedule, matching up their needs with the teachers who would be available to teach in-person versus online. It took multiple months and a lot of flexibility from all parties involved.
"Our staff is working really hard to deliver the best experience possible in both in-person and online learning," Koskela said. "I even learned during visits to the building this week that there's a group of high school kids who are in hybrid learning, but one of their classes is by a staff member who is only teaching online, so they're sitting in the cafeteria with their laptops doing online class there.
"I am so proud of our staff. We've set up our schedules to fit students' needs, but it's never perfect and the amount of tweaks and contingencies this time around were astronomical. It took a month and a half to build the master schedule and over another six weeks they worked with students to figure out what best fits in terms of rearrangement. That whole process stands out to me because of how difficult it is."
District officials are hoping for a full school year in-person once the fall rolls around, without any need for distance learning if the pandemic improves to a certain point. That will require mass vaccination on the part of Oregonians and people throughout the country, along with other measures to slow the spread until then.
"I'm glad that with vaccinations rolling out and us working hard on safety protocols, that we're able to offer this option for people to be back in school," Koskela said. "I think all of us are really hoping to have something that looks much more normal next fall and be able to have all our students back full-time."
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