Fern Ridge School District

A professional pest management company will be applying an approved, low impact herbicide to planter beds at each school over the weekend of January 22, 2022.  The application is intended to discourage new weed growth in those areas.

In accordance with state law, signage will be posted at each site with contact information and re-entry times.

 

The district remains committed to doing everything possible to provide indoor athletics for our students this Winter, however, we need support from the community if athletics are going to continue.  Below are brief updates regarding athletics in FRSD, addressing both EHS (district-funded athletics) as well as youth athletics that use our facilities (TSP)

EHS ATHLETICS:  After a 5 day pause, our boys and girls basketball teams are back practicing and competing.  Wrestling continues as well.  Many districts throughout Oregon have either paused, halted all together, stopped allowing spectators, or limited spectators.  At this point, all we are asking in Fern Ridge, is that folks attending our games are 100% compliant with the masking requirement, that we social distance, and do not eat in the stands.  If we can continue to do that, we will stay the course.  If fans are not in compliance with this we will make announcements at the game.  I will not be asking staff that are supervising to go into the stands and confront individuals who are not in compliance.  If it is reported that we have fans not wearing masks, we will simply need to move to limiting the number of fans attending, not allow fans in our gyms, or halt athletics altogether.

TSP ATHLETICS:  We continue to be committed to allowing TSP to utilize our gyms and provide important opportunities for activity to our students.  However, following masking protocols must improve in our gyms on the weekends.  In Eugene 4J, Kidsports/YMCA youth athletics are not allowed in any gyms yet this year.  In Springfield, spectators are limited.  We are doing everything we can to continue to offer this in FRSD, however absent significant improvement in regards to wearing masks in our gyms, we will pause TSP games after this weekend.

Following these protocols helps ensure we can maintain in-person instruction.  Each day this week we have had between 10 and 20 staff out who need to be home with their students who have tested positive or were close contacts, were close contacts themselves (and have not been boosted—which is the new requirement), or have tested positive. Having gyms full of our students and parents un-masked, whether at EHS athletic events, or on a Saturday/Sunday with youth sports, impacts our staff greatly, and increases the likelihood we may need to pause in-person instruction, like numerous schools and districts across the state have already done.  Please help us keep our schools open.

Finally, a big thank-you to all the parents and community members that ARE following all of our safety protocols each and every time they visit a campus!

Fern Ridge staff and students want to take this chance to give our board a heartfelt thanks for the work they are doing to help support our district.

In a time when there are few easy answers, we appreciate your leadership and willingness to volunteer in this capacity.  Thank you Tiana, Mark, Andrea, Barbara & Jackie.  We appreciate you!

Below are two links that describe some of the new CDC recommendations around boosters and isolation/quarantine periods.  As I mentioned yesterday, we are currently seeing a spike in cases in our school community, more than we have seen at anytime during the pandemic.

An additional important tip/piece of guidance to share is this:  If your student has symptoms, PLEASE get them tested.  If the test is positive, they would need to isolate for at least 5 days (and fever free with no primary symptoms for 24hrs). Following their isolation from a positive case of COVID,  they would NOT need to quarantine if they were a close contact for the next 90 days (following CDC/OHA recommendations).

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2022/s0105-Booster-Shot.html

CDC Updates and Shortens Recommended Isolation and Quarantine Period for General Population | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

As much of Oregon is seeing, and specifically Lane County, we are experiencing a large spike in cases of COVID-19 among staff and students today.  Fortunately, all of our staff have been vaccinated, and symptoms for everyone to this point have been relatively mild, and we expect them back in school soon.  Since the beginning of the year, our primary concern has been to maintain in-person instruction.  We have been able to do that through the creativity, teamwork and dedication of our staff, as well as by following all of the layered mitigation safety protocols.  To date, we have not had to alter our calendar due to a lack of staff, or as a result a COVID outbreak.  While daily in-person instruction throughout the year is our goal, all school districts in Lane County are preparing for the possibility of needing to close for short periods of time.

On Monday, ODE released a School health Advisory for Continuity of Instruction.  One of the things it addresses is that the expected spike in cases, thus resulting in requirements to isolate (for those ill) or quarantine (for those that are close contacts) and the impacts on workforce stability in a wide range of sectors, including schools.  We expect further updates from ODE on Friday regarding new requirements and guidance in the areas of quarantine, isolation, test to return, up-to-date vaccination status, safety protocols, athletics, testing programs and more.

The next month is critical. By mid to late January the modeling currently shows that we could be through this surge, and cases will drop off dramatically. We need the help of families and community members in order to maintain in-person instruction:

  • Keep your child home if they have symptoms.
  • Vaccination remains the best protection against serious illness and reduces spread of the disease.
  • Limit gatherings.
  • Follow safety protocols including masking, hand-washing, distancing, etc…

We will try to keep the community apprised of any changes.  Below we will briefly address multiple topics I would like our students and families to prepare for.

Remote Learning:  If the district needs to shift to remote learning, we are prepared to do so.  We believe we can get Chromebooks issued in 24 hours to our K-8 students (H.S. students already have them), and only need to be “closed” for one day.  If the district needs to close for multiple days (more than 3)…it is most likely we will look at engaging in remote learning.  If the district needs to close for less than 3 days, it is most likely that we will NOT be engaging in remote learning, we will simply have no school days. In this case, there is a possibility the school year could be extended. The need to do this, if it arrives, will be last minute.  We would encourage families to have a plan in place.  It will be a last resort.

Athletics:  For now, there are no long term changes to athletics, however due to an outbreak today among both basketball teams, both of those programs are needing to “pause” for one week.  I do not want to pause athletics permanently, as we are committed to providing as normal an athletic experience for our student athletes as possible.  Practicing the safety protocols listed above will be critical going forward, and for basketball teams when they return.  We want to make clear to our students and parents, that while we value participation in athletics, there is a much higher risk of catching and spreading COVID for our student athletes.  The primary difference here is that attending school is compulsory, while participating in athletics is voluntary.  This allows the district (through state guidance) — to have different requirements for each.

Will students be required to be vaccinated and/or boosted?: I have looked into this extensively in the last few weeks, and while I certainly cannot say I am 100% sure of anything, I am comfortable making the two statements below:

  • I do not expect any changes to the vaccination requirements in this school year.
  • If this were ever to occur, just like all other required vaccinations for students, I would expect parents would have a clear and relatively simple path to “opt-out.”

Updates to Quarantine & Isolation:  The CDC made new recommendations early this week.  OHA officials are currently working with the CDC regarding what this means for schools.  As soon as we get an update, and have time to interpret it, we will share this information.

Thank you to all the families, students and staff that continue to be flexible, follow protocols, and work hard daily to ensure we can continue to maintain in-person instruction.  That remains the goal, every day.

Gary E. Carpenter, Jr.

Superintendent, FRSD

 

Fern Ridge Families, I wanted to update you with as much information as I can, while not compromising the investigation being done by both local and Federal authorities.

  • What was the threat? In simple terms, it was that violence was going to occur on the EHS campus (there was a minor reference to FRMS)—No specific names were used and it was mostly directed towards staff.
  • Was there more than one person making threats? At this time, we believe it was one person.
  • Why re-open school if the person hasn’t been caught? The decision to close school was made in conjunction and consultation with local authorities, as was the decision to re-open.
  • Is the investigation over? No, multiple law enforcement agencies continue to work this case.  I remain hopeful we will identify the individual(s).
  • Will you continue to provide updates? I will continue to provide updates as warranted.
  • Can I keep my student home from school? If you believe this is what is best for you and your family at this time, then yes.  Please contact the school and work with the office and teachers regarding school work.

Thank-you for your continued patience and understanding.  This incident, ensuring students and staff are safe, and identifying the individuals that are involved, continues to be our top priority.

Gary E. Carpenter, Jr.

Superintendent, Fern Ridge School District

Fern Ridge Families,

Thank you for your patience and understanding in regards to our last-minute closure of school.  Both EHS and FRMS will be operating on a normal Wednesday early release schedule tomorrow, January 5th.

Both local and Federal Law enforcement continue to investigate the anonymous threat that was made against our school community yesterday.  At this time, the origin of the threat has not been identified.  Assuming this threat came from someone in our community, it is likely that a student somewhere knows something that could lead to their identification.  Please speak to your high school age students regarding anything they may have heard or know.  Thank you to the members of our community that did report this to the district.

The vast majority of our young adults are making good decisions, but this is an unfortunate reminder that some youth are using it to cause fear. These threats cause panic and concern for our students and families.  We respectfully ask that parents monitor their student’s social media use, and if you are unable, to restrict access to it.  Resources on how you can support your child in the responsible use of social media can be found at:

The best security system we have continues to be the eyes and ears of our students who contact trusted adults. Please remind your students that we need their help to keep our campuses and community a safe place.  A reminder also that the district utilizes the SafeOregon tipline.  Anyone (student, staff member, or community member) can leave an anonymous tip at 844-472-3367 or through email at tip@safeoregon.com at any time.

Gary E. Carpenter, Jr.

Superintendent, FRSD

Please share the information below.  A phone dialer will go out to all FRMS and EHS families by 7:00 AM tomorrow, January 4th, that summarizes this post.

Fern Ridge Families,

It is important that you are aware of a development in our District involving school safety.

After two threats of violence against Elmira High School that were posted on social media today, Monday January 3rd, I am taking the extraordinary step of cancelling classes at Elmira High School AND Fern Ridge Middle School on Tuesday, January 4th. This is only because investigators are still trying to determine the viability of the threats. We were informed of the threats at approximately 2:15 and 6:30 PM.

Veneta Elementary and Elmira Elementary will remain open on their normal schedules Tuesday. In an abundance of caution law enforcement will be providing an enhanced presence at those sites although there were no threats directed at these schools.

I realize that cancelling classes will be a hardship for many, particularly with such late notice. While it is in my nature to confidently move forward with school, in this particular situation we believe some additional time for law enforcement and the district to investigate will be helpful.  This has been an extremely difficult decision, but when it comes to student safety we must – and do – take threats seriously.

The law enforcement investigation could lead to serious disciplinary action including criminal charges regardless of whether the threats were intended to be taken seriously.

The safety and security of all students and staff is our first priority.  We commend those who have reported these threats. This week, and always, if you hear or see anything that may indicate a safety issue, please report it right away.

I will provide more relevant information on the investigation if and when it becomes available. When students return to school, and I fully expect that to be on Wednesday, we will be reminding them that words do matter.  If anyone has ANY information regarding where these threats may have generated, please contact the school.

Gary Carpenter
Fern Ridge Superintendent

The community Q & A session has been cancelled due to Winter Break.

The next Q & A session will be held at 5:30 pm before the start of the January 24, 2022 school board meeting.

Tonight’s School Board Meeting will continue as scheduled at 6:30 pm and can be viewed by logging into the Zoom Webinar here or by dialing 1-346-248-7799.

Webinar ID: 856 2955 1270

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The FRSD is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative      Action/Veteran’s 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 Coordinator

       Michelle Marshall

            541-935-2253 

 

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