Based on guidance from the Oregon Department of Education, the West Linn-Wilsonville School District is moving forward with a two-pronged approach to educate students in the upcoming school year.
During the 2020-21 year, students in grade five and up will have the option of taking classes solely online or spending half of each week at in-person classes and the other half working remotely. Kindergarteners through fourth graders, though, will attend classes full time or commit to online learning.
Andrew Kilstrom, the district's director of communications, said online learning will include a variety of educational components such as recordings of lessons and supplemental material, and that students would meet virtually with teachers on a regular basis.
Also, the district is shortening each school day by 50 minutes.
"The use of time after students leave will mostly be spent by teachers and staff to clean classrooms at the end of the day; that will follow with the usual time for meetings (virtual or on-site), teaming, and preparation time for the next day's cohort of students, and connecting with students and families," a district message to families reads.
To try to keep students safe, students will be siloed into cohorts of about 12 to 18 students (depending on the size of the classroom) throughout in-person instruction. This will allow the district to determine who had contact with a student who tests positive for COVID-19. However, Kilstrom said testing for the novel coronavirus will not be part of the equation.
"We are required to track who students have come in contact with throughout their day and we'll do that through student cohorts," he said.
He also said students who ride the bus to school will be required to maintain their distance from classmates and that fewer people attending classes each day will mean less crowded buses. Bus drivers and other district personnel also will conduct health assessments, Kilstrom said, and staff will be tasked with monitoring student health.
"It will be a districtwide effort. All staff members will be monitoring symptoms and relaying any pertinent information and whatever is needed to our nursing staff to make sure we're staying on top of all health concerns," Kilstrom said.
As for social distancing, Kilstrom said the district hadn't yet determined how it would be enforced and imagined that younger students might sometimes forget to abide by the rules.
"It's hard to know what that will look like," he said. "A priority for staff is enforcing social distancing as best as possible."
Kilstom also said nonacademic services like counseling will be provided for students who take classes online.
"A student will receive all supports they would experience otherwise in a brick-and-mortar setting," he said.
However, he wasn't sure yet whether certain extracurricular activities outside of the Oregon School Activities Association's purview, like clubs, will be allowed.
Other differences from previous years include not allowing visitation and volunteering, serving school meals in packages and lunches taking place solely within individual cohorts. Plans for recess and classes like physical education and music have yet to be determined, Kilstrom said.
For more information on plans for next year, read the district's message to the community: wlwv.k12.or.us/Page/16153. Kilstrom also said the district is planning to unveil more aspects of the plan next week.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.