A MESSAGE FROM SUPERINTENDENT CYDNEY VANDERCAR
Update on Returning to School in Fall 2020
Dear 4J families,
Thank you for your continued patience as our state and school districts navigate the nuances of returning to learning in the midst of this global pandemic. We know that families are trying to plan for the fall, as are we in Eugene School District 4J.
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) released new guidance this week about the 2020–21 school year. A few key changes:
• Face coverings will be required for all students (K–12) as well as staff, under the new guidance.
• Total in-school student combined cohort size will be limited to 100 or less, meaning that the total number of students and adults a student regularly is in contact with at school (e.g. 3rd grade classroom + small group reading intervention + recess group + lunch group) adds up to no more than 100 people. Individual cohorts—the people a student is in an area with at one time—will be much smaller than 100.
• Additional guidance about public health criteria and metrics to guide when students may return to school on-site will be shared in the coming days or weeks. The Oregon Department of Education, in conjunction with health authorities, will provide a set of “guideposts, protocols and public health indicators” that will help school districts determine when to open school buildings to in-person instruction
Changes are possible
We are making our best effort to plan for a safe return to learning, under changing public health conditions and state guidance. While we don’t yet know what the new guidance will be, we recognize that it may have important impacts on our plan to return to learning this fall.
Our framework for returning to learning has the school year starting with online learning for all students on September 14, some on-site school days for kindergarten and first grade in the first weeks of school (if possible), and all students beginning some on-site instruction in a hybrid alternating-week model as early as mid-October, if public health conditions allow.
This plan may be altered or delayed by the new state guidance to come. We want families to be aware of this so that you can be prepared for the possibility of all students attending school online for potentially longer than the first four weeks, based on the new metrics and local public health indicators.
When the new guidelines become available, we will share them with our community, along with information about what this means for our plan for the school year.
Choices for families
We know that many families are eager to have students back in school buildings as soon as possible. We understand how challenging it is for families to have their children at home and not in school buildings, and are sorry that the pandemic is creating this difficulty. The district is not able to provide childcare, but we know that many local organizations are looking to offer more childcare options for families. We will share information about local childcare options as possible.
We know that many other families and staff have questions or reservations about students returning to school in-person in the fall, even with careful health and safety measures and only half the usual number of students attending on-site at a time.
In Eugene School District 4J we are also carefully considering all of these factors, working to provide for the health and safety of all of our staff and students, and seeking to provide options for families to make the choice that is right for them.
Regardless of what decisions are made about on-site instruction, families have the option to select all-online learning through the Eugene Online Academy—please complete the interest form by August 10, to help us ensure enough teachers are assigned to support all students who choose the online option.
What comes next
We will keep families informed as we learn more and as detailed planning progresses. We will be scheduling virtual town halls for information, questions and feedback in August. Spanish and ASL interpretation will be available.
The health, safety and wellbeing of your students, our staff, and our community remain at the center of all our decision making. Thank you for entrusting us with the care and education of your children. They are why we educators do what we do.
Eugene School District 4J