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School district will begin school year with a Comprehensive Distance Learning curriculum

As many of you are aware, we have been working on our Ready Schools, Safe Learner roadmap to reopening. Educators, administrators and paraprofessionals have been working tirelessly to develop a safe, equitable plan that not only delivers high-level learning opportunities for our students, but does so in a safe environment.COURTESY PHOTO: RICK VASQUEZ - WSD Superintendent Oscar Gilson

After much input, discussion and revision, we landed on a hybrid model. The hybrid model offers a blend of online learning as well as on-site instruction. The district then began developing implementation plans based on this model focusing on safety, structures and communication guidelines provided by the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

One aspect of this initial planning was the understanding that if a COVID exposure were to happen during a time in which the school was offering site-based instruction, we would need the ability to shift to a Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) model quickly and seamlessly. Due to this understanding, the district convened a group of educators and administrators to begin planning for this scenario.

While this planning was going on, the district also was offering summer learning sessions. This has been a great learning opportunity for us on how to implement safety protocols and learning procedures amid this pandemic. It also has given us a chance to practice our exposure control response.

We experienced our first exposure during planning sessions for our summer programs. Given that safety protocols were implemented and followed, no exposed staff tested positive. However, a second possible exposure prompted us to revisit our educational model for the start of the 2020-21 school year. Even though this second exposure was limited thanks to our strict adherence to guidance provided by the Marion County Health Department, it highlighted how disruptive these incidents can be.

As we have reflected on the impact we have seen during our summer programs due to possible exposure to COVID, we feel it is in the best interest of our students, families and staff to start the 2020-21 school year using a Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) model.

We realize that this model cannot replace direct instruction, and brings with it some challenges, but we are committed to helping our families overcome those challenges.

Given our experiences with a very small group of staff and students during our summer programs, we feel that a CDL model will best serve our students and families due to the increased possibility of a hybrid onsite model being disrupted by reports of exposure and implementation of quarantine protocols.

Additionally, in an abundance of caution we will be temporarily suspending on-site athletic practices as we work through this transition to a CDL model. As we are working to create our CDL plan we are exploring different options to continue to support our students, families and staff, and are committed to finding ways to safely increase on-site instruction.

We will continue to update the community as this situation evolves. Thank you for your understanding and patience as we work through this very difficult time.

Please be safe, stay healthy.

Oscar Moreno Gilson is the superintendent of Woodburn School District.


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