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School district to provide Chromebooks, hotspots, meals to students in need through end of academic year

PMG FILE PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - OTSD has so far distributed 680 Chromebooks to students in need of those devices, as of April 8. School's out for summer, though few are as joyous as usual about the break from academia. At a press conference yesterday, April 8, Gov. Kate Brown announced that schools will remain closed through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Schools are to maintain distance learning through that time, connecting teachers virtually to students and providing online instruction to maintain students' education.

"All in all, I think it's a good idea (to keep schools closed)," said Sandy mother Dayna Brown, who has two high schoolers, one middle schooler and a kindergartener currently at home. "If we want to keep the curve flattened we need to be social distancing. The teachers are doing a great job so far and I think the kids will be OK academically. I was a little disappointed, (but) I'm trying to take the positive out of this."

For the Sandy High Class of 2020, a few accommodations are being made by the Oregon Department of Education. Senior who had a passing grade as of March 13 when they were last in in-person classes will receive full credit for their courses. Those who were not yet passing will receive aid through teacher intervention to attempt to bring them to a passing level and put them on a path to graduation. Seniors will be informed of their current graduation status by Sandy High staff by April 30.

"There's no real timeline right now for a ceremony — virtual or face-to-face," Superintendent Aaron Bayer noted. "It's something we desire to try to provide for students, but this has (situation) has been changing at times by the hour and we can't predict how things will be in June or July."

The Oregon Trail School District administration expressed some disappointment regarding the inability to return to physical classes on Wednesday. Bayer said the district had hoped the current method of distance learning "would be short lived."

"The confines we find ourselves in during Governor Brown's latest executive order have proven to be taxing at best," Bayer noted in a statement. "We are trying to be mindful of the stressors this crisis has placed on our families. This year long closure does not change our direction or negatively impact any of the work your students have already delivered on. We remain committed to engaging our students in distance learning opportunities and preparing them to enter their 2020/2021 school year."

The district continues to try and "serve students where they are," Bayer added, but currently doesn't have a plan on how to specifically address students with different learning abilities and who'd normally be served with an individualized education plan.

"We're working to identify needs of students," Bayer said. "It's become more difficult in this environment to reach students. We don't have the same economy of sale (staff per student) when students are home."

Tho address the variation of internet and technological access of students, the district is still distributing Chromebooks and hotspots to families in need of adequate access to internet and computer. A total of 680 Chromebooks and 105 hotspots had been distributed, with 1091 Chromebooks and 305 hotspots total requested, as of Wednesday, April 8. In February, 4,503 students were enrolled in the district. Families are still able to request those devices through their child's classroom or advisory teacher.

The school meal program will also continue now through the end of the school year, with staff handing out both a sack breakfast and lunch to students in need every weekday.

Here is that delivery/pick-up schedule again for those who need it:

The pickup time slot at Naas, Sandy High and Welches schools is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and lunches can be picked up at the bus loop at Sandy High School, the Welches School entrance and the Naas Elementary School entrance.

Staff will also deliver sack lunches by bus to the following bus pick-up/drop-off locations:

• Pioneer Mobile Park at 11:45 a.m.

• Barlow Trail Mobile Home Park at 11:45 a.m.

• Hood Course Acres, Welches, at noon

• Vista Loop Apartments at 12:15 p.m.

• Big Valley Woods at 12:15 p.m.

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