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District eyes April start date, including hopes to bring back high school students as well.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Students work on assembling a CNC router so they can build a small jetboat as part of their mechatronics class at Forest Grove High School. Forest Grove School District announced last week their plans to reopen schools in April.The Forest Grove School District is hoping to bring students back into classrooms by April.

The school district provided its latest update to the community Friday, Jan. 29.

Superintendent Dave Parker said the district is planning to begin what is calls "hybrid instruction," or part in-person and part online, in the elementary schools, starting with pre-kindergarten through the second grade "around the second week of April."

Parker was quick to point out, however, that projections are fluid, and any return will be subject to COVID-19 case rates in Washington County being at or below the necessary threshold, as well as the schools' ability to meet required health and safety guidelines. It also assumes that staff vaccinations have gone as scheduled.

Staff vaccinations were scheduled to begin Monday, Feb. 1, with teachers and administrators being vaccinated in waves on a weekly basis over the next 10 weeks.

While some Washington County school districts have downplayed the possibility of older students returning to campus before the end of the school year, the Forest Grove School District says it hopes to bring all grade levels back by May.

In-person learning for pre-K, kindergarten, and the first and second grades is scheduled to begin the second week of April, with third- and fourth-graders beginning the third week of April, fifth- and sixth-graders a week later, and seventh- through 12th-graders as of May 1.

COURTESY PHOTO - David Parker, Forest Grove News-Times - News Superintendent Dave Parker cites confidence in kids as hope for the future in education FGSD tackles racial issues head-onParker said in a statement that the district's ability to successfully bring students back will also rely on accurate information from all families. He asked that "everyone continue to diligently practice social distancing, mask wearing and proper handwashing as a means of ensuring the ability to bring students back to school."

The district is beginning limited in-person instruction (LIPI) this week, beginning with high school kids and working toward the elementary level. LIPI is designed for small groups of students who meet "at risk" criteria including students with disabilities, emerging bilingual students and low attendance, as well as students without reliable internet connectivity. These students will be taught by teachers who have come forward on a voluntary basis.

In neighboring Hillsboro, the Hillsboro School District is opting for a similar plan, also subject to fluid COVID-19 numbers and a successful rate of vaccination.

"This timeline is dependent on vaccination availability," Hillsboro Superintendent Mike Scott told school board members. "We hope this is the timeline that we can pull off, but we will continue to get updated on the vaccination availability throughout the next several weeks."

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