Although it’s only early July and there are still two whole months before the new school year begins, families are understandably anxious and interested in our plans for reopening Bethel schools.
COVID-19 continues to change the most fundamental aspects of how we live, including how we hold school. As a result, our school cannot operate in a normal fashion to begin the 2020-21 school year. From top to bottom, here is some important information you should know:
The Plan: Bethel administrators and department leaders are now outlining details of two learning models: a Hybrid model, combining in-classroom instruction with distance learning, and a Comprehensive Distance Learning option for students who are unable to attend in person. There are many reasons why the Hybrid model has been selected, but most center on following the Oregon Health Authority’s strict health and safety requirements now in place for schools:
– Social Distancing: The State requires that each student in school be provided a social distancing area of 7’ x 5’ (35 sq. ft.). Depending on the size of the room, that limits classrooms to about 14 students at one time. So, about half the school enrollment will be able to attend school at one time.
– Instruction: A core value in Bethel is to maximize in-person instruction to provide continuity of learning, care, and connection. A Hybrid model brings students to school for some days each week, while offering distance learning for the days when students are not in the building, while Comprehensive Distance Learning is for students who cannot attend in-person at all.
– Health & Safety: No in-person plan will work without the ability to protect the health of all children and adults in the school. We are more able to limit your child’s contact with others throughout the day by reducing the number of students in school at one time, while keeping students in consistent groups, as required,
– Transportation: Social distancing requirements apply on school buses, too. This will cut the capacity of most of our buses by more than half. If all students attended each day, we simply would not have enough buses to provide transportation for all the students who need it. We will ask parents to transport their children, if they are able.
– Cleaning: In a Hybrid model, schools will be able to clean between student group rotations to disinfect all high-touch surfaces throughout the school.
– Childcare: Part-time in-school instruction is a significant burden on many families. With the Hybrid model, students will be in school some days and on a regular schedule. It also aligns with what private daycare centers typically offer (2 or 3 days per week options).
Your Choices: It is critical that we hear from you while the plan is still in the development phase. Watch for a survey coming in the Principal’s Blog. We’ll be asking about transportation, distance learning, meals, and more. Your input is incredibly important in helping the District refine its reopening plans.
Family Feedback: You will have opportunities July 13, 14 and 15 to learn more and provide feedback about the draft reopening plan. Your input is critical to the successful development and implementation of the plan. Details about the upcoming family feedback Zoom sessions will be shared in the Principal’s Blog.
The Timeline: After the survey and your feedback, the final Operational Blueprint has to receive approval from Lane County Public Health and be submitted to the state by August 15th.
Communication: We will continue to share updates as relevant information is available. Watch for emailed information coming via the Principal’s Blog.
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