A MESSAGE FROM SUPERINTENDENT CYDNEY VANDERCAR
Returning to School in Fall 2020
School will be hybrid of online / on-site learning • Year will start online for most students • Families may choose 100% online academy
With two months to go before the new school year begins, planning is underway for restarting teaching and learning in the fall. The district is developing a comprehensive plan to support students’ well-being and academic progress while protecting students and staff from the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus continues to change the most fundamental aspects of how we live, including how we “do” school. As much as we all wish for a more rapid return to normal, we know that schools will not be able to begin the 2020–21 school year operating in our normal fashion.
While detailed plans aren't yet finalized and there are still many unknowns, we want to share the framework to help our families and community plan for the year ahead.
What to Expect
School will be a hybrid of online and on-site learning next year. The foundation of instruction will be online, augmented by face-to-face learning at school as public health conditions allow, so students and schools are prepared to transition to all off-site learning at any time based on public health circumstances.
Remote learning will be different and more robust than the short-term emergency learning students engaged in last spring.
For most students, the first few weeks of school will be online—establishing a strong foundation in remote learning for teachers, students and parents—before phasing in on-site instruction starting in October, if public health conditions allow. Students in kindergarten and first grade will have some school days on-site starting in September if public health conditions allow, as may certain other selected groups of students, to help them learn how to learn as they start school in this new model.
When schools resume on-site learning, students will attend school on-site in alternating groups. Under current state requirements for health and safety, it will not be possible for all students to be at school at the same time.
Students will be divided into two groups that alternate week by week: Our current planning is that one week students in the A group will learn on-site, while the B group learns at home; the following week the B group will be on-site while the A group learns at home. Schools will strive to coordinate attendance groups so students from the same household attend school on-site the same weeks.
Other health and safety measures will include physical distancing, consistent groupings, face coverings, cleaning protocols, transportation changes, visitor restrictions, and more. All of these details will be established in compliance with the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority’s strict health and safety requirements in place for schools.
Students will have two options for learning in Eugene School District 4J in 2020–21:
(1) Attend their regular school—blend of online and on-site learning
Our preliminary plan includes the following:
• Strong online start: School starts September 14 with most students learning online
• Focused support: On-site learning starting in September for grades K–1
• Back in buildings: On-site learning starting in October for all students
• Alternating weeks: Groups of students will attend school on-site in alternating weeks
• Full week: Learning five days a week, online or on-site, with adjusted schedules
• Technology: Take-home learning devices for every student
• Nutrition: School meals will continue to be available during remote learning weeks
• Transportation: Bus seats will be limited to allow distancing; families are asked to transport their own students if possible
• Flexibility: Schools must be prepared to return to full-time online learning at any point based on public health circumstances.
(2) Attend the Eugene Online Academy—100% remote learning
We recognize that some families may not be comfortable sending their children back to school in person this fall, regardless of schools' rigorous health and safety plans.
Families may opt for 100% remote learning through 4J's online academy, which offers individual supports and online courses taught by 4J teachers. Families choosing this option are asked to submit an interest form by August 10.
Students will temporarily take classes through the Eugene Online Academy, but will remain enrolled in their current school and may continue to engage in extracurricular activities. Once they are comfortable resuming on-site learning, students will be able to go back to their regular school at the next term change or other transition point.
We are listening to our families, staff and community partners. We appreciate the thousands of parents, students and educators who provided feedback on the emergency services provided this spring and shared your thoughts about the year ahead. Your input is important in helping the district develop plans to restart school and prepare to teach, transport, feed and support our students.
The district will continue to provide updates when additional details are determined. The district’s final detailed school operations plan will be submitted to the Oregon Department of Education and published in mid-August.
Thank you for your patience as schools across Oregon navigate how to safely and effectively return to school in the fall. We look forward to seeing our students back in school as soon and as much as possible given the evolving public health situation.
– Cydney Vandercar
Eugene School District 4J