The Oregon Department of Education has created another new set of guidelines for reopening our schools, particularly for our youngest students. Bethel Superintendent Chris Parra has promised to keep everyone informed with updated information, and here is her latest message.
New guidance from the state has been announced that relaxes the COVID-19 metrics.
The changes make it easier for schools to reopen during higher local COVID rates. This follows similar trends in other states. These revised numbers are based upon the Harvard Global Health Institute Metrics.
Bethel School District has been preparing for in-person (Hybrid) instruction since the summer, with a careful eye on the local and state COVID rates, which influenced when and how our schools could reopen.
No reopening date for Hybrid Instruction has yet been finalized in Bethel but we are working on potential timelines. The Governor’s request is to begin the transition planning to reopen schools, if possible, by February 15th. We have promised to let families and staff know at least two weeks before reopening to students, with a longer runway if possible.
There is more preparation before a reopening. This includes:
- Finalizing staff assignments for Hybrid (in-person) or Distance Learning and reorganizing classes. More families have recently indicated that they will continue to keep their children in Comprehensive Distance Learning than they did in September.
- Scheduling students in cohorts (small groups) for Hybrid or Distance Learning, including to which teacher and on which days they are assigned
- Ensuring we have adequate staffing levels for in-person instruction
- Finalizing transportation
- Preparing classrooms in configurations that meet the latest health and safety spacing protocols, based on the changing number of students seeking Hybrid Instruction
- Training for all staff on the new protocols and expectations, specific to each building
Here are a few other considerations you should know:
- Once we move into Hybrid Instruction (which requires small cohorts), there is a chance students will be assigned a different teacher than who they have currently through Distance Learning
- There will likely be a lot of changes among our students – those seeking to join the Hybrid format or shifting to only Distance Learning – causing ongoing staffing and cohort adjustments
- After reopening to our youngest students, we will incrementally add grades to Hybrid Instruction. This careful approach is to make sure we are fully following all COVID safety protocols, and this careful transition is encouraged by the new state guidance.
- The state guidance encourages schools to reopen if they are able to effectively follow health and safety protocols, and while considering the level of our local COVID infection rates. Teaching those protocols, following the expectations, and sticking with the newly established routines in every Bethel building is essential to preventing the spread of COVID in our schools.
We hope to announce our timelines soon. A School Board Work Session has been scheduled for this Thursday, January 21st to discuss the updated metrics and reopening next steps for Bethel. Here is the link to the Zoom meeting for Thursday.
I hope the facts listed here help you better understand our current situation, and we will do our best to keep you informed as we move forward.
Bethel School District