Fern Ridge School District

The ever changing environment of the past year has created an opportunity for our March Employee of the Month, Emily Bliven, to shine and take a leadership role at Veneta Elementary.

Emily has been a kindergarten teacher in our district since August of 2018.  In her three years she has already made a big impact!

As online learning became a reality, Emily stepped in with both knowledge and patience as staff members sought help for technology training.  From our PE teacher to our principal, staff at VES have turned to Emily for help.  She’s always willing to drop everything to take care of any request.

Emily has taken on a leadership role this year by serving on the re-opening committee and serving as the union representative for VES licensed staff.  She also lends a hand on the Talent Show Committee, Earth Day Committee and the Equity Committee.  In the classroom, she tells us she loves getting to build relationships with students and witness their learning in action.  She also enjoys learning from and collaborating with her co-workers “who make me a better teacher.”

When she is not teaching, helping out another staff member or serving on a committee, Emily is busy completing her Masters Degree and planning a July wedding with her fiancé, Chase.  She loves to be outdoors walking, hiking, playing with their one-year old retriever, Revel, reading and spending time with family and friends.

Congratulations Emily and thank you for always being willing to lend a helping hand to your VES team!


blackboard with thank you messageMarch 1 – 5 is the week that we take extra time to show our classified staff just how much they mean to our district.

These folks support our teachers at every building,  they ensure our operations run smoothly, they take care of our offices, student schedules, and state testing.

They mow lawns, maintain and clean buildings.  They help with food and staff our libraries, and district offices.

There isn’t a single aspect of the Fern Ridge School District that doesn’t involve a classified employee.  We are grateful for each and everyone of these staff.

The work they do makes a world of difference for every student in our district.

Thank you

To further mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in Oregon’s K-12 schools, The Oregon Health Authority is supporting COVID-19 testing in public and private K-12 schools.  Oregon schools offering partial or full in-person instruction may provide testing  for students and staff who display symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the school setting. The Federal Government has allocated Abbott BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care antigen tests to states to support COVID-19 testing. These tests are available to support testing if needed  in K-12 schools during the 2020-2021 school year.

The Fern Ridge School District now has these tests on site and will be using them as required.  Currently, they are ONLY required for contact sports (football) when as described above, a participant is exhibiting symptoms while ON-SITE!  Our District Nurse and EHS Athletic Trainer are our two trained school testing administrators.

Testing for students in grades K-12 will only occur (after March 1st), and IF, our schools are operating with in-person instruction while the County is outside of the recommended metrics (over 350/100,000 for elementary, or over 200/100,000 for grades 6-12).  An additional example of when using these tests MAY be possible would be when in conjunction with Lane County Public Health (LCPH), it is determined that a cohort is required to quarantine, and LCPH recommends using these tests to help shorten the length of quarantine for exposed individuals.  This can only be done at the direction of LCPH.

In order for any student to be tested, a “consent” form must be on file.  In preparation for potential testing that may occur, it is recommended you print the consent form and drop off at the school.  The forms are also available in every front office.  Below is a link to the consent form, as well as a COVID-19 Testing in Oregon’s Schools FAQ Document.  These documents will also both be located under the “2020 School Year” tab at the top, right of the District website.

COVID-19 School Testing Consent Form

COVID-19 School Testing FAQ

Again, at this time, FRSD will only be using the on-site tests as required.  Currently, this ONLY applies to our football players and the coaching staff.  We ask that families continue to support our schools, students, staff, and community by keeping their child home when they are exhibiting symptoms. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your school.

Fern Ridge Middle School will open for 6th grade students this week.  On Thursday/Friday February 25th/26th, 6th graders will be back in the classroom on an A/B schedule.

9th grade students return to Elmira High School next Tuesday/Wednesday, March 2nd/3rd with all grades in session on their A/B schedule beginning Thursday/Friday, March 4th/5th.

For more details on plans for returning to in-person instruction please visit this recent website post.

Bus routes can be accessed on the district transportation page, or by clicking on the links below:

Elmira Elementary Bus Routes as of 2/26/21

Veneta Elementary Bus Routes as of 2/26/21

Fern Ridge Middle School Bus Routes as of 2/26/21

Elmira High School Bus Routes as of 3/2/21


Superintendent Carpenter recorded the community-wide question and answer session from Thursday, February 18 which is now available for playback.

Ms. Johnson will be talking with middle school parents on Tuesday, February 23 at 6:00 pm.  Zoom Link

Mr. Gardner will be talking with high school parents on Thursday, February 25 at 6:00 pm.  Zoom Link

Recordings will be published here as they are available:

Community Q & A with Superintendent Carpenter
Return to In-Person Instruction with Principal Olivia Johnson
Return to In-Person Instruction with Principal Rick Gardner

FRSD Students and Families of 6th-12th grade students:

Yesterday around 2:00 PM, updated infection rate data for Lane County was released.  It shows that we are below 200/100,000 for the first time in several months (at 194.5).  In addition, data for our specific zip codes here in Fern Ridge, has consistently been about 60-70% of the County rate and that remains consistent with the current rate within FRSD being 121/100,000.  To ensure we are using both current and accurate information, I spoke to the K-12 education liaison at Lane County Public Health yesterday and she confirmed that the number of infections in Lane County has consistently dropped over the last 10 days. She added that on this trajectory, at a minimum, we should expect the rate released next week to again be lower.  With that information in hand, we are ready to execute our plan to get more students back to in-person instruction.  Below are the details:

February 25th and 26th:  6th grade students will return to FRMS in a hybrid model.  Following the same model as our elementary schools, students will return on an A/B format.  Approximately half the students will attend all day on Tuesday/Thursday (A Day) with the other half attending on Wednesday/Friday (B Day).  The school day will be a full day, and students will leave each day with work for their “off-day”.  6th grade students will attend the 25th or the 26th and again on March 2nd or 3rd (based on being either A or B day).  This will allow all 6th graders to be introduced to the Middle School and oriented for the year.

March 2nd and 3rd:  9th graders only will attend EHS, without 10th-12th graders.  They also will be on an A/B schedule as described above.

March 4th and 5th:  The remaining grades (7th, 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders) will return on an A/B schedule, similar as described above.

Other important information:

  1.  LIPI:  At FRMS, the last day for 2 hour LIPI will be this Friday, February 19th, to allow the rooms to be configured and teachers to prepare for this transition.  At EHS, the last day for LIPI will be Friday, February 26th.
  2. BRIDGES and RESOURCE ROOM AT FRMS (Mrs. Gardner and Mr. Brummett):  Both of these programs will have slightly different schedules, the school/teacher will be communicating with individual families.  If you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out.
  3. CHROMEBOOKS:  At FRMS, for now, students will keep their Chromebook at HOME, and not bring them back and forth.  At EHS, students WILL bring their Chromebook to school each day!
  4. BUSSING:  We will post updated routes/times as soon as they are ready.  In the mean time, we need to gather information from those that WILL be riding the bus.  At FRMS, there will be a website post with information, and a google form to fill out.  For EHS, please call the school and share that you will, or will NOT be riding the bus.  Elementary students that ride the bus should pay attention to the new routes/times when they are posted, as the time they get picked up might be pushed back a couple minutes with the buses making more stops.  They should not change significantly.
  5. A Day or B Day:  For FRMS students, this can be found in Home Access (after logging in, click on registration tab, look for “house/team” – this is near the top-left under demographic), students can ask a teacher, or families can call the office. For EHS this information can be found in Home Access, or on the EHS website in the coming days.  You can also call the school. FRMS 541-935-8230 or EHS 541-935-8200.
  6. Lunchtime and Meals:  This will look different at each school (M.S. and H.S.)
    1. FRMS:  When students come for  “in-school” days, they will receive a hot sack-lunch from the cafeteria and then proceed to their designated eating area (or they can bring a lunch from home).  At the end of the day they will receive a take-home bag (for those that want it) with two breakfasts in it (one for their off day and one for their next in-person day).  For lunch on the off-days, students/families will have the ability to utilize the high school drive through for that day’s lunch service.
    2. EHS:  When students come for “in-school” days, before the start to the school day, they will have the opportunity to receive a sack breakfast from the high school kitchen to be eaten on-site in the cafeteria.  Only those eating breakfast will be allowed in the cafeteria at that time.  During their lunch period, students will be able to receive a hot sack-lunch in the cafeteria and then proceed to a designated eating area (or they can bring a lunch from home).  On their off-days they will also have access to the drive through site at EHS for that day’s lunch.   The EHS campus will be a CLOSED campus for all students to assist with cohorting of students.
    3. Families who do not want to participate in the on-site meals or the drive through meals, will be able to pick up a week worth of breakfasts and lunches from the H.S. drive through that occurs on Monday evenings from 5-6 PM.  A reminder that you cannot “double dip,” and can only participate in one or the other.
    4. As  mentioned earlier, the H.S. lunch drive through will continue to operate Monday-Friday for now.
    5. Finally, a reminder that through the end of the 20-21 school year, all school meals are FREE!
  7. More Information-Community zooms: Zoom meetings to allow for Q and A sessions with Mr. Carpenter, FRSD Superintendent, as well as the building principals at FRMS and EHS have been scheduled.  See below for specific links and days/times:
    1. Superintendent Q and A with Mr. Carpenter: Thursday, February 18th, at 6:00 PM link here:  https://fernridge-k12-or-us.zoom.us/j/88970897706
    2. FRMS Q and A with Ms. Johnson: Tuesday, February 23rd, at 6:00 PM link here:  https://fernridge-k12-or-us.zoom.us/j/88330691646?pwd=UjZjRm5rYnlsRmhXUmlPakdxRFZEUT09
    3. EHS Q and A with Mr. Gardner: Thursday, February 25th, at 6:00 PM link here: https://fernridge-k12-or-us.zoom.us/j/84823255124?pwd=QTdCbWxEWFJrT2F0L2U0M3NqU2grZz09 


Feb 1 – Feb 5, 2021, is our time to focus on the contributions of school counselors in Fern Ridge School District and across the nation.

Mr. Ryan Chambers at Fern Ridge Middle School and Mrs. Brittney McMillan at Elmira High School work hard through the year to actively engage students, help them to focus on positive ways to enhance their academic and social/emotional development and plan for a future after high school.

Join us in thanking Mr. Chambers and Mrs. McMillan for all of the work they do to ensure our students can reach their greatest potential!

Here are the initial bus routes for our elementary students:Front of school bus

Elmira Elementary Bus Routes

Veneta Elementary Bus Routes

There may be some changes over the next few days, once the routes are finalized, they will be updated here and published on our transportation page.

If you have any questions regarding bus routes or the plan for K-3 and 4-5 to return to in-person instruction, please reach out to your school office.

Elmira Elementary: 541-935-8214

Veneta Elementary: 541-935-8225


Michelle Cook has been an employee with the Fern Ridge School District for over 14 years!  She started working in the district in September of 2006 and has been supporting FRSD staff, students and families ever since.

Beginning as an Elementary School Secretary, Michelle is currently the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent and the School Board.  She is a tremendous support to not only the board and Mr. Carpenter, but to all staff and families in our district.  While her duties have a large scope and touch on a wide range of topics (especially this year), some of the consistent areas of support she provides include supporting staff and community members who come to the District Office, posting all of our jobs and setting up interviews, publishing board packets and taking minutes at board meeting, processing volunteer background checks and supporting staff with license renewals just to name a few.  Michelle says one of the favorite things about her job is “helping our staff and families when they have a question or a problem.”  She goes on to say that “being able to connect someone with a resource or information they need is always the best part of my day.”

Michelle has 2 boys, Coltyn (16) and Brendon (14).  They have attended Fern Ridge schools since Kindergarten and are students at Elmira High School.  When Michelle isn’t busy supporting all of us, she loves to hang out with her family, plan the remodel of a recently purchased farmhouse, and finding a quiet place to read.  She loves hanging out at the beach, and says that “playing around in the mountains or backpacking are some of my favorite things to do.”  Her favorite mountain summit memory is Shasta, and a hike she wants to definitely do again is the three sisters loop.  She goes on to say that climbing Kilimanjaro is on her “mountain bucket list.”

Michelle is an outstanding employee who is hard working, super intelligent, and fun to work with.  Mr. Carpenter mentions that she is “a tremendous asset not only to the board and I, but to all the staff students and families of Fern Ridge School District.”

Thank you for all that you do Ms. Cook.  You are greatly appreciated, and congratulations on being our February 2021 employee of the month.

elementary school worksheet and supplies on a deskFRSD Community,

The District has finalized its return to in-person instruction plan.  It was reviewed last night at 6:00 PM in a Community Q and A with Superintendent Carpenter.  You can view playback of the meeting here.  In addition, at 6:00 PM this evening, each elementary school principal will be hosting a Q and A for all parents.  Links to those virtual zoom meetings can be found here:

Veneta Elementary Parent Q & A

Elmira Elementary Parent Q & A

To summarize, the District continues to use the Oregon Department of Education/Oregon Health Authority guidance and framework that was updated last week to guide our plans.  The research that informed the recent changes to the K-12 Metrics Framework can be viewed here.  The primary metric that determines when we can bring students back for in-person learning is the COVID-19 case count per 100,000 over the prior two weeks.  When the case count is under 350/100,000 we can bring back elementary-aged students.  When it drops below 200, we can consider bringing back grades 6 and above.  These two week “look-back” rates are released each Monday.

The rates for Lane County for the past 5 two-week periods have been:

12/13-12/26:  289

12/20-1/2:  250.7

12/27-19:  284

1/3-1/16:  292.7

1/10-1/23:  283.5

The last time the case rate in Lane County was below 200 (which would allow grades 6-12 to return) was in mid-November.  We are hopeful that with the rollout of the vaccine and continued adherence to health and safety protocols, the case rate will drop back down again soon, allowing us to expand our return to in-person instruction for our older students.

Below are the specifics of our plan for returning elementary students to in-person learning:

Thursday, February 4th and Friday, 5th:  All K-3 students return to in-person instruction in an A/B Hybrid Model, similar to what was done earlier this year.  Due to transportation changes, whether or not you are an A or B day student may have changed.  This will be communicated soon with our families. The school day will be from 7:55am-2:25pm. Teachers will communicate with families what the expectations are in regards to applied learning, or off days.

Thursday, February 11th and Friday, 12th: All 4th and 5th grade students return to in-person instruction in an A/B Model. Due to transportation changes, whether or not you are an A or B day student may have changed.  This will be communicated soon with our families. The school day will be from 7:55am-2:25pm. Teachers will communicate with families what the expectations are in regards to applied learning, or off days.

Thursday, February 4th:  For students in grades K-5 that are a part of our SLC or Bridges classrooms, the opportunity to return all 4 days each week will be offered.  Please work with your student’s teacher and school principal if you have questions.

Returning all of our students in grades K-12 is our highest priority and we will be prepared to do that when the case rates drop.

Below is some additional general information on a wide range of topics around returning to in-person instruction that folks may be interested in:

HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS:  Each building has a “blueprint” that outlines all of the safety protocols that will be in place.  The list is too long to review here, but includes things like social distancing, wearing masks, cohort groups, hand-washing, limiting movement in the building, entry screenings upon arrival, dedicated entrances and much more.  The blueprints, once finalized, will be updated on our District website.

TRANSPORTATION:  Transportation is one of the larger logistical issues to solve.  Please be patient as we work through this.  Anyone that has the ability to transport their student, please know that is greatly appreciated. The goal is to have the routes and times up by early next week.

MEALS IN SCHOOL:  Meals will look different.  Breakfast will not be served at school but sent home so that students are able to eat prior to coming to school.  Lunches for off days will also be sent home.  Students will have an opportunity for a normal school lunch, on days they are in session.

VACCINATION:  FRSD staff have begun to receive vaccinations.  We are on-track to have about 20% of staff receive the first vaccination by this weekend.  The vast majority of those staff are at the elementary level.

I DO NOT WANT TO RETURN, OR CANNOT RETURN DUE TO MEDICAL ISSUES: We have begun collecting information from families who do not want or cannot have their student return to in-person learning.  Please inform your teacher and or building principal ASAP if you are in this situation.  While enrolling in our online OPTIONS program is one choice a parent can make, we will also have a CDL (Comprehensive Distance Learning) option for these students.  What it looks like exactly will, in part, be determined by how many students need to access this option.  It may take a few weeks to get up to full-speed as we are waiting on some technology to assist with this that was ordered back in December.  However, we are hopeful that it will include some packet work, as well as some live interactive connection with a teacher and a classroom each day (it might not be through their regular classroom teacher).  More information on this in the coming days.

Thank you for your continued patience as we begin to roll this plan out next week.  We all look forward to seeing our students in our buildings!–Gary Carpenter, Superintendent, FRSD 28J


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The FRSD is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action/Veteran’t Preference employer.  The district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, disability, or age in its programs or activities.

FRSD Title IX Coodinator

Michelle Marshall (Principal EES)





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