2020 Fall School Planning
Parent Choice Model: In-Person/Distance Learning
It is our goal to offer as much in-person learning as possible for students returning in the fall, while maintaining the safety requirements outlined by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority linked HERE. We are mindful of the health considerations of our students and family choice, so we are also going to offer a distance learning option for all families as well. This education model will allow families to choose an option that works best for them, either in-person learning or distance learning. This is an initial jump off point in our work, which could adapt with conditions or state guideline revisions, but in the effort of transparent and thoughtful planning, we wanted to get this out to our community now.
What does this look like?
To accomplish this parent choice model, we will continue with the usual 4-day school week calendar, yet the in-person school day will be shorter (as an example, the school day could be from 8:00 to 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon, still in development). This shortened day will allow for more building/classroom sanitation time after school and allow teaching staff to work with students in the distance learning program. A distance learning program will be available for all grade levels and run through the Google Classroom, accessible any time.
Why run both options?
In this time of uncertainty, families are looking for options that best fit their needs and comfort level. Supporting those varied needs is important to us and the only way to accomplish this is to run two options. Along with parent choice, this model gives us flexibility. We cannot predict the virus’ timelines or its impact upon our schools and community. This option model gets students into school, and allows us to continue educating via distance if it becomes necessary to do so at any point. This model also allows students to stay home if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or they become sick, while still continuing their schooling. This option model is not easy to run for staff, but it gives us flexibility in the unknown future, while giving the greatest support for our varied family needs.
Based on 153 family survey results, we see that about 80% of the families have some comfort with returning students to school in the fall. We also have a group of about 10% who are unsure and another 10% who are not comfortable sending students into school this fall. All our students are important and we are mindful that local or state conditions can change at any time. We want to support all of our students and be prepared to meet these ever-changing expectations and needs.
When students return to school, you can expect to see increased protective measures such as Plexiglas and personal protective equipment worn. There will be increased sanitation of classrooms, restrooms, and common areas. Student entry into school and movement between classes will also look different, to help minimize exposures. We will not utilize shared classroom supplies and equipment. It is projected that all students will be loaned a Chromebook for their use, not shared within classrooms as before. This is for any student in distance learning and those who are in-person. We are still developing plans for safety in playgrounds, PE and other common area spaces that are important to kids’ enjoyment of the school day. We do not want to limit ‘the fun’ of school, yet we need to keep within the safety guideline requirements. Additional details will be provided as they develop.
Other Models Considered
- Full day in-school only- This model provides the most in-person learning, but it falls short in providing options for families and does not set us up well in the event of a state required closure, nor does it offer support for students who may need to quarantine later.
- Hybrid model of instruction- There are two main ways of doing this: one is a half day split (AM/PM sessions) and the other model is that some students come on Monday/Wednesday and the others come on Tuesday/Thursday. Both of these models cut in-person learning in half and are not supportive of many of our students’ needs. The AM/PM sessions would also pose significant transportation barriers and would be costly, while a Monday/Wednesday model creates childcare issues for families.
- Full Distance Learning program- This model would be the easiest for the district to run next year, yet does not meet the developmental needs of our younger students and does not meet the academic, social and emotional needs of all of our students.
Using the model of an in-person and distance learning option model, we will continue to detail our plans and make adjustments to our schedules and routines to meet the required state guidelines. As more details unfold, we will communicate this out to our families and community. We are fully aware that guidance can change at any time and that our plans may need to shift. Our goal is to continue to offer families an option, while maximizing in-person learning opportunities. Along with parent communications, there will also be periodic parent surveys to help us make informed decisions. By mid to late July, we hope to have detailed plans ready for our school board to review and approve.
Fall Schooling Parent Choice
In review, the current plan being worked out for fall is to offer families choice in their schooling:
- In-person schooling operates every day of our traditional 4-day school week calendar, with a shorter day, from approximately 8:00 to 1:30 or 2:00 (still in development).
- Distance learning program available for all grades/classes that runs through the Google Classroom.
Additional information will be coming out throughout the summer, as it develops. Thank you for your understanding and support. Expect further communications and surveys from us. We are in challenging times, yet I feel fortunate to be going through this with our dedicated team at Santiam Canyon School District to support our amazing families and kids of the Santiam Canyon. We will be in touch!
Todd Miller, Superintendent
*For more information, view our Q&A page, which will be updated throughout the summer HERE.