Join us on Thursday, September 23 from 6:00-7:00 pm to learn more about the what it’s like to work in the Fern Ridge School District!
Parents, Students and Staff of Fern Ridge:
As mentioned in a previous post, the District hopes to share the COVID-19 safety precautions that we will implement when school begins in September by mid-August. However, we would like to share with folks where we are headed so that families can prepare; our current thinking so to speak. These decisions are not being taken lightly, as every decision impacts families, students, and staff members differently. The decisions that will be finalized in mid-August when I share my recommendations with the School Board, WILL negatively affect some of our constituents. There is no way around it. We will do everything in our power to minimize those effects and support students and families in the best way that we can. In addition, it must be clear that our “plan” is subject to change at a moment’s notice. I have discussed the strategies outlined below with Lane County Public Health and our plan has received their support as they are based in sound public health practice and science. I have also discussed our plan with our insurance carrier, and with today’s information and conditions they are in support of it as well. I will be scheduling our insurance carrier for an onsite visit later in September for them to review the implementation of our practices, and to provide feedback.
On Thursday, June 22nd, ODE released their updated guidance, the Ready Schools Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 21-22 School Year (click here). The guidance changed very little, so with no update expected prior to mid-August, I am comfortable sharing what our current thinking is. Having said that, I want to repeat that it is not the final decision and even if we start the school year under what is described below, it may change quickly based on new guidance or variables we are experiencing in our schools. The district will CONTINUE TO WORK WITH LCPH THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AS CONDITIONS CHANGE.
MASKS: As described in the ODE guidance, we plan to strongly encourage masks for all staff and students K-12, but not require them. Masks are an effective way to slow or prevent the spread of disease. It should be noted that at this time, the CDC IS REQUIRING that masks be utilized on all public transportation, which includes school buses (click here). As long as that mandate is in place, we will comply with it.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING: As described in the guidance, the district will support and promote physical distancing in multiple ways, including:
- Maintaining at least 3 feet between students where possible.
- Consider physical distancing requirements when setting up learning spaces.
- Minimize time standing in lines and take steps to ensure required distance is maintained, including floor markings and one-way traffic flow in constrained spaces.
COHORTING: As described in the guidance, the District will develop cohorts to the extent possible. This will take place to some degree at all grade levels, with more of this at the lower grade levels, and less of it at the upper grade levels due to instructional constraints.
MEAL TIMES: In all buildings, increased distancing will be emphasized during meal times.
COHORT LOGS: Logs and attendance data will be kept and referred to. Cohorts help manage risks in the potential spread of COVID-19. In particular, the size of the cohort matters for risk management. Student cohorting:
- Limits the number of exposed people when a COVID-19 case is identified in the school.
- Quickly identifies exposed individuals when a COVID-19 case is identified.
- Minimizes the number of people who may need to be quarantined as well as school-wide disruptions in student learning.
ENTRY SCREENING: While we are not sure what this will look like yet, there will be entry screening. Not having sick staff or students come into the building is one of the best ways to stop the spread of any virus.
MERV-13 FILTERS: Prior to COVID-19, most schools (along with Fern Ridge) used MERV-8 filters in their HVAC systems. In 20-21 we upgraded (with a significant cost increase) to the use of MERV-13 filters. A MERV rating chart can be accessed by clicking here
INCREASED AIR EXCHANGE: We have been and will continue to work with our HVAC vendors and facilities staff to set our systems up for maximum air exchange of our spaces, as allowed by the constraints of the outside temperatures.
P.R. CAMPAIGN REGARDING KEEPING SICK KIDS HOME: This has always been something we have tried to do. It will be emphasized this fall. Please keep your students home if they are displaying any symptoms of illness.
USE OF SYNEXIS SPHERE SYSTEMS IN KEY SPACES: This is a hydrogen peroxide gas and Dry Hydrogen Peroxide Technology for occupied spaces. Several professional sports teams are using this technology in their locker rooms/clubhouses. We have purchased these devices for our health/isolation rooms at each school, as well as the locker rooms at EHS and FRMS. This technology uses ambient humidity and oxygen naturally present in the environment to create a safe level of hydrogen peroxide which reduces unwanted microbial contamination in the air and on surfaces. To read more about these devices you can click here.
HEALTH/ISOLATION ROOMS: As advised by ODE and OHA, the district will have exclusion and isolation protocols for sick students and staff identified at the time of arrival or during the school day.
EXCLUSION FROM SCHOOL: School administrators are required by Oregon law to enforce exclusion OAR 333-019-0010. Students and staff are required to isolate when they exhibit “primary symptoms” of COVID-19 per symptom specific guidance. They may return after a negative test, or 10 days if not exposed, 14 days if exposed.
HAND WASHING & USE OF HAND SANITIZER: Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Each building will create protocols and systems to ensure access to soap, water and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
INCREASED SANITATION BY CUSTODIANS AND ALL STAFF: Increased cleanings in particular of high touched surfaces both after school and throughout the day will be conducted.
COVID-19 TESTING: There are two types of testing programs discussed in ODE guidance. Those are diagnostic testing and screening testing. The district will not be participating in screening testing. Diagnostic testing is the testing of students or staff who develop symptoms at school. We are working toward having this option available for our staff and students.
TRAINING: Training for staff and students will occur at the beginning of the year regarding all of the safety protocols in place.
It will take a team effort to ensure our schools can stay open to in-person instruction, and everyone has a responsibility to do their part. I am hopeful that the safety measures listed above provide us with an excellent opportunity to experience a full school year, and limit the spread of the virus. Finally, a few additional pieces of important information:
- The district is required to enforce quarantining and isolation protocols. When a case of COVID-19 is identified in our school, we will contract trace with the assistance of our staff and District Nurse. Any staff member or student that is unvaccinated and determined to be a close contact, will be excluded from school for 14 days. When primary symptoms are shown, there are strict guidelines we must follow before the individual can return.
- Instruction WILL be interrupted. One of the biggest challenges we will face is the disruption of instruction when required to isolate/quarantine. Simultaneous “live” instruction will not be provided when this occurs. However, we will work with individually families to support their students.
- Be respectful of others. Many staff and students will continue to wear masks. Most, if not all, certainly wish to be mask free but they have individual circumstances that prevent it. We have many medically fragile students. We have siblings of medically fragile students, and we have folks who have medically fragile family members living in their home. For many of these people the vaccine is either not advised, or unavailable due to their age. Mask “shaming” or “harassment” will not be tolerated in any form, and will be addressed directly and quickly.
Gary Carpenter, Superintendent FRSD 28J
Orchid health is now open and seeing patients! For more information, please visit their website at: https://www.orchidhealth.org/fernridge.html
We’ve also added a page on the left hand side of the FRSD website with more information regarding Orchid Health.
The Orchid Health Fern Ridge Clinic is ready to take care of all of your sports physical needs. Conveniently located on the campus of Elmira High School, call them today and sign up for an appointment – (541)-234-3255.
Being a school based health clinic, they can provide all services for any student in the school district whether or not they have health insurance coverage at no cost to them (including no co-pays) for those who do have insurance. Sign up today!
Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. P-EBT is money for buying food at home for students. Oregon is sending P-EBT to families with eligible students this summer.
Fern Ridge School District offered grab-and-go meals the entire year 2020-21 school year under the Seamless Summer program, so the entire District is eligible to receive P-EBT for 2020-21. You can still get “grab-and-go” or summer meals from the school while receiving P-EBT.
Benefits are determined at the school level based on the learning model utilized by most of the enrolled students, as well as the type of meal service. Benefit levels may not be adjusted based on individual student schedules.
The grocery money is to make-up for meals students missed while schools and childcare were closed part-time or full-time during the 2020-21 school year.
Non-SNAP households will receive a new card in the mail if you are new to P-EBT or received P-EBT for multiple children on the same card. Benefits will be issued on Oregon EBT cards and mailed to the address on file with the school for students who do not receive SNAP. SNAP households with P-EBT eligible children will receive P-EBT on the same card as SNAP. The PEBT issuance is based on the timeline detailed below and will be different than your normal SNAP issuance date.
P-EBT is intended to reimburse families for the cost of the free meal missed at school. If you opt out, you are letting ODHS know that you don’t wish to receive P-EBT benefits for any student in your household. Benefits will not be issued to families who have decided to opt out and will carry over to future years. Benefits are not transferrable and cannot be gifted or donated.
You can change your student’s opt-in/opt-out status at any time. If you still wish to decline the benefits, email ODHS by email at email@example.com.
Please see the Oregon P-EBT link below for more details:
Summer meals are available for students every Monday through Thursday at the high school.
Meals can be picked up from 11:00am to 12:00pm each weekday (closed on Fridays)
FRSD Students and Families:
With the 4th of July just around the corner, we wanted to inform you of some extra precautions we are taking this year.
On June 16th, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Western Lane District declared the start of the fire season. This includes the banning of fireworks in the district.
Two FRSD campuses fall in within this ban, Elmira High School and Elmira Elementary. While our other two campuses do NOT fall within the district, we are asking everyone to refrain from coming to ANY of our FRSD campuses to light fireworks.
The combination of high temperatures and extremely dry conditions has us very worried that the opportunity for a fireworks “fire accident” is extremely high. We apologize for any inconvenience as a result of these campus closures for this activity.
Food for Lane County kicks off their 2021 Summer Meal program tomorrow. Lunch (and breakfast in some locations) will be served around Lane County June 28th thru September 3rd from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Food may be taken to go or you can eat lunch on site and enjoy the park!
Fern Ridge School District has funded 5 free visits to the Veneta Pool (visits can also be shared with family/friends) for every Fern Ridge student.
The community pool opens on Saturday, June 19. For the first three weeks, the pool will offer lap swims, family swims, and swim lessons. The passes may only be used for lap swim, family swims, and recreation swims.
Laps & Lessons are first come, first serve and family swim will require advance registration and a lottery system. Registration for family swim begins on June 14.
You can view the latest community pool details at www.venetaoregon.gov or by calling 541-935-4390 if you have any questions.
SPRING HARVEST FESTIVAL
GROWING A FUTURE SCHOOL FARM
Saturday, June 26th, 10am to 2pm
Elmira Elementary School (parking)
Visit www.growingafuture.org to learn more!
We are so excited to invite you to the school farm and learn about the incredible future and opportunities it provides the Fern Ridge School District students and community.
Please bring the whole family for a day of fun, food, prizes, giveaways and festivities that will be an exciting start to your summer. Come and encourage the students!
Here is a short list of what is waiting for you and your family:
* Prizes and Giveaways from community based organizations
* CSA Boxes from the School Garden
* Cornhole Tournament (prizes)
* Strawberry shortcake
* Hamburgers & Hot dogs – Water, Lemonade & Tea
* Tasting tables (vegetables & honey)
LEARNING CENTERS (K-12+)
* Tours, Composting, Beekeeping, Soil Health
LOCAL ARTS, CRAFTS & PROFESSIONALS
* Artisans, Clubs, Experts
Come and join us!
Lane County Public Health has let us know that there has been an increase in the number of school age children who are testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The County has completed contact tracing and has found the increase is not because students have returned to the classroom but because more school age children are going out and about.
Reported cases are related to visiting with friends and family, attending parties, sleepovers or play dates.
This is a confusing time for students. It is hard to understand why they can go to the school, but cannot go to be with their friends. As a parent, trying to explain this to your child can be difficult.
Some talking points that might help:
- At school, masks are required to be worn by everyone in the building; when you are out with friends or family not everyone may wear a mask.
- At school, staff help students keep their masks on; when out with friends or family you may forget to wear your mask.
- Masks / face coverings help to keep you, your friends, and family safe.
- At school there are reminders to stay 3-6 feet apart; it is hard to say 3 feet from your friends and family.
Parents of teens: If you would like some additional talking points for teens, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can share some ideas with you.
Remember just because you cannot see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
A person can be infected with the COVID-19 virus and not have any symptoms. This is one of the reasons it spreads so easily. With the County numbers going back up, it can impact students being at school and being able to be out in the community. It is not being at school that spreads the virus. Spread happens when we stop guarding and protections against the virus. As a parent we have to make choices for our children, sometimes they are hard but needed choices.
Keep up the good work and help to keep our community safe.