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District asks families to 'remain vigilant' in screening students for symptoms before coming to school.

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - As of April 8, all grades are in hybrid learning in the Oregon Trail School District. As of Thursday, April 8, students in all grades have transitioned to hybrid learning in the Oregon Trail School District. Hybrid learning allows for students to return to school buildings for part-time in-person instruction.

On April 10, the district announced that it plans to expand the hours provided for in-person class time for elementary students, starting Thursday, April 15.

"We are excited to announce our transition for elementary students to four days per week of in-person classroom instruction," district representatives said in a release. "Our A and B Cohorts will merge, and those students who are currently participating in in-person instruction will be able to attend in-person classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The daily four-hour schedule will remain as is."

The transition to four-day in-person instruction will begin April 15 for grades kindergarten through second and April 19 for grades third through fifth.

Some families have opted to stay in comprehensive distance learning (CDL) as the schools transitioned to hybrid learning, and those students will continue to attend remotely.

While this past week the county risk level for businesses returned to high, Superintendent Aaron Bayer explained that the metrics for schools and businesses are not the same and this change in the county's risk level will not send students back to CDL.

Bayer also noted that "at this point in the school year, we have not had any school-based transmissions" of COVID-19, though there have been students infected by community-based transmissions.

In the April 7 weekly report from Oregon Health Authority, two recent cases were reported at Sandy High School and one at Kelso Elementary, but Bayer said: "the positive cases we've seen have come in from the community."

"We have to report them but that doesn't mean other students have been exposed," added district communications director Julia Monteith.

These are the only cases the district is aware of at this time.

"The effect of the students coming back to school has been positive," Bayer added. "Teachers are also excited to have students back. I think we're making steady progress with students coming back. It's going to continue to be a process. We do know the cases are rising in the county, so we're keeping an eye on those numbers … that could affect schools being in hybrid. We're still just a vigilant as we were on day one."

More information regarding a transition to four-day in-person weeks for middle and high school students will be announced soon.

"We have a robust system in place to address your child's health and safety, and we believe we are equipped to accommodate the new 3-foot physical distance allowance," district representatives explained. "However, 6 feet continues to be the threshold of close contact for exposure determination by public health, even when 3 feet of physical distance is permitted. Therefore, we need families to remain vigilant about screening their child(ren) for symptoms of COVID-19 before they leave for school each morning. If a classroom of students is exposed to one symptomatic student, it is possible the entire class would need to quarantine for 10 days."

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