Students and Parents of FRSD,
Thank you for your continued patience and grace as the district works to navigate the limitations and restrictions being placed on us due to the pandemic. While our staff continue to serve students in creative ways, there is a universal agreement in Fern Ridge that the current environment, while required, is not serving our student’s educational or behavioral health needs as well as in-person instruction can. We are working on a graduated plan that could return a few students on Tuesday, January 5th, and increase to larger groups of students and grade levels beginning the start of the 2nd semester, on Tuesday, February 9th. I advocate weekly in meetings and emails with other Lane County Superintendents, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and state legislators. I am beginning to see some relief on the horizon and believe the path that ODE, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Governor’s office are currently discussing will allow districts to make some local decisions that will change the playing field come February.
To review how we have transitioned over the last month or so. Before Thanksgiving Break, we had a few students on campus at EHS and FRMS who received special services, were without internet, and provided some limited CTE opportunities that are allowable. Due to the rising infection rate in Lane County, as well as numerous staff needing to quarantine, we chose to discontinue this and move to full Comprehensive Distance Learning on Tuesday, December 1st. At the elementary school, 4th and 5th grade looked similar to 6th-12th grade students. Our K-3 students were able to come on campus for 2 hours a day, on an every other day basis.
What has changed? A couple things have changed over the past few weeks. The first being we currently do not have a large group of staff needing to isolate/quarantine. The second being that I am now sent infection rate data from LCPH specific to the zip codes that lie within our district boundaries. This data shows the # of cases as well as infection rate (with FRSD boundaries) is significantly less than that of the county as a whole. In addition, ODE continues to find that transmission of the virus in a school setting is limited. Below I have pasted a quote from a recent ODE release:
“Schools in Oregon that have continued operating in counties with case rates/counts or test positivity, in the “Distance Learning” (red column) have generally not experienced transmission at the school site. Adherence to public health protocols in Ready Schools, Safe Learners Guidance Sections 1-3 appear to be effective in reducing the risk of spread. These protocols include entry screening and exclusion practices, maintaining small cohorts, wearing face coverings at all times, maintaining physical distancing, implementing hand washing routines, readiness to respond to exposure, and more. Schools in Oregon are seeing COVID-19 cases introduced to schools. When appropriate actions are immediately implemented, the introduction of a case into a school setting does not lead to transmission to others in the school.”
WHAT IS ABOUT TO CHANGE? While it isn’t with 100% certainty, the District is PLANNING to implement what is described below on January 5th. We will be confirming this by Jan 1st. Please continue to watch our website for more information.
MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL: Following winter break, January 5th, middle and high school students will return to a very similar model that they were in prior to Thanksgiving Break. Over the last day or two, FRMS and EHS staff have contacted the students that receive these special services and will have the option to return for 2 hours of limited in-person instruction (LIPI).
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: Following winter break, January 5th, limited-in-person instruction will resume for Kindergarten – 5th grade students, but on a much smaller scale than we were in previously. Much like older grades, students coming on campus will be limited to those receiving special services or have no internet. Just like the MS and HS, over the last day or two, elementary staff have contacted the students/families that receive these special services and will have the option to return for 2 hours of limited in-person instruction DAILY Tuesday-Friday.
If you did not receive such a call, rest assured we are doing everything we can with the goal of returning many more students by the start of the 2nd semester. Clearly, many of these decisions are out of our hands, but for the first time in awhile I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am looking forward to having more options that we will be able to consider. Finally, we would ask that anyone that is returning in January that travels out of state over the break to NOT return until they have quarantined for 14 days. This is recommended, but not required. We hope to get bus routes and pick-up drop off times for those that will be riding the bus, out the week before we return.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your building administrator or to email me directly. The best way to contact them over the next 2 weeks will be through email:
EHS Rick Gardner: firstname.lastname@example.org
FRMS: Olivia Johnson: email@example.com
VES: Lisa Leatham: firstname.lastname@example.org
EES: Michelle Marshall: email@example.com