General Information

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Based on a request from building staff, the FRSD school board has altered the District calendar for the last week of school.

On the final week of school only – EARLY RELEASE day will be moved from  Wednesday, June 15th to Friday, June 17th. 

Wednesday, June 15th will be a full-school day.

This will be the only week that the early release day will change.  If you have any questions, please reach out to your student’s school office.

Hello FRSD families

This week we have had a significant increase in the number of known positive COVID cases in the District, in particular among staff at VES.  We are working on trying to stop the spread of COVID within the school community so that we can continue to offer in-person learning to all of our students.  

Your assistance in the effort to slow the spread in our classrooms is needed:

  • Please do not send your child to school if they are sick. 
  • Masking in schools can also be helpful in slowing the spread of illness. 
  • Please talk with your child to decide if masking is an option for your family.  

With upcoming events in all of our buildings (talent shows, book fairs, and more…) there will be a great opportunity to show your effort by practicing social distancing and mask-wearing.  A little extra effort today may mean the difference between in-person learning or online learning in the coming few weeks. 

We have made it this far without losing a single day of in-person instruction in the 21-22 school year.  Your help and support is needed.   

Thank you for your ongoing effort and support of our school community.

 

Good afternoon Fern Ridge families,

This past Thursday, the Oregon Department of Health and the Oregon Department of Education shared updates to the spread of COVID-19 in our state and a new timeline for removing the statewide indoor mask mandate.

Beginning March 19, the universal mask requirement for all public indoor spaces, including K-12 schools will be lifted.

From the onset of the pandemic, FRSD schools have relied upon the guidance and expertise of our state health authority and state partner agencies as the experts in response to this health crisis. This continues today, with the newest announcement.

Beginning March 19, FRSD schools will welcome and strongly advise face coverings, but will no longer require them in district schools and facilities. Our district leaders are working to support a welcoming environment in all of our school locations so that we normalize mask wearing for those students, families, and situations where desired or required (such as following a confirmed exposure to COVID-19, in a health room when ill, or transportation–if this Federal requirement is extended).

There are still many details and processes left to be determined to implement this change, in large part due to updates expected early next week regarding requirements that schools will need to follow around quarantining and contact tracing. We also are working on updating our visitor and volunteer protocols to be more in-line with the current health conditions (stay tuned). We will share additional details as they are finalized as we approach this date. For today, we are focused on three important items:

  1. Masks and other health protocols are still required until March 19.
  2. Students and families wishing to make a change to their educational model – ex: from online instruction to in-person, or vice versa will need to follow the existing transfer/enrollment processes and will be accommodated when possible, at the natural transition points, or as space allows.  The earlier you communicate any possible change, the better.
  3. It is encouraging to hear that the Oregon Health Authority remains confident in the declining impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day activities.

Throughout the past two years, we have all become accustomed to perpetual changes.  This change in protocol is another example of this, and we know that it is likely to surface a multitude of emotions. Please know that our school staff continues to be available to support the needs of your student.

Respectfully,

Gary Carpenter, Superintendent FRSD 28J

The only thing that is consistent, is that things consistently change.  Earlier this morning, ODE released a memo regarding masking.  The  memo can be read at this link: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORED/bulletins/30c2377

This memo was a result of a new OHA update released this morning, that can be read here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/ORDHS/bulletins/30c223b

To summarize:

  • The requirements for masking in indoor public places AND Oregon schools will now end on March 19th. 
  • In regards to schools, after March 19th, the decisions fall on “local authorities.”
  • The change is due to a continued rapid decline in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
  • The District is still waiting for updates to “safety protocols for quarantine, contract tracing, and testing that meet the current conditions of the pandemic.” The ODE memo states that these updates will be released “early next week.”
  • If these updates are in fact released early next week, I am hopeful we will be able to review them relatively quickly and come up with our plan here in Fern Ridge moving forward.  We are currently working on various options that could address a range of circumstances and requirements, but we will not be able to finalize these plans until we have an opportunity read the requirements.

I will continue to provide updates here, any time we receive new information.

 

The district continues to investigate this issue, and hopes to make a final decision by Friday, March 11th so our families have time to prepare (although a decision could come sooner).  As was mentioned in the last website update on this topic on February 14th, since the beginning of the pandemic we have strived to protect in-person instruction for our students/families, and followed local and state requirements.    If the recommendation of OHA is to strongly advise and not require, then that is what I expect I will implement here in Fern Ridge.  We will strongly advise, not require

Why can’t we just make a decision today?  The single biggest reason is that Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have not provided final guidelines regarding what the quarantine/isolation/contract tracing requirements are that schools will be REQUIRED to follow.  A meeting was to occur late yesterday between ODE and the superintendents around the state to provide an update, but that meeting was delayed.  For example, we currently have every staff member vaccinated (without a doubt that has allowed us to maintain in-person instruction throughout the school year), and a high percent of our teachers have received a booster, and are thus “Up to Date”.  The current OHA/ODE requirement is that if a staff member is “up to date” on their vaccination that they do not have to isolate/quarantine when they are a “close contact” unless they become ill.  If that were to change, and in an environment that has “optional masking,” staff members were required to quarantine regardless of vaccination status, then it would essentially stop in-person instruction.  We would not be able to provide a consistent in-person option.

Conversations have occurred at every building on this topic over the last week or two to gather staff input.  I have a meeting this afternoon with association leadership to discuss this as well.  We are on track and slowly getting prepared for a possible change.  A couple things to note:

  • The requirement for masks on transportation is a Federal one, that is set to expire March 18th.  If it is extended, and our district goes to an optional masking environment, masks will still be required on the school bus.
  • If we go to an optional masking environment, there may be some instances where masks ARE still required for staff and students.  For example:  In the health room when a student is experiencing symptoms.
  • Finally, in an optional masking environment, FAR more students will be required to quarantine, as any student that is not-vaccinated, or any staff member who is not “Up to Date” will need to quarantine/isolate.  This will require us to really focus and double down on all of our other safety protocols, such as hand washing, ventilation system effectiveness, distancing, cohorting, etc..  The single biggest help however, has always been, and will continue to be, staying home if you are sick!

I will continue to provide updates as we get more information.  As always if you have questions, or would just like to share your thoughts, feel free to reach out.

This post is intended to provide our community with an update on the processes that will be undertaken between now and the end of March, prior to coming to a decision regarding making masking optional in our schools.  First, to those in the community frustrated with the continued mask requirements in public schools and the ongoing response to the pandemic, and the burdens placed on our children: We hear you! Many district employees not only empathize with this position but fully support it.  To those in the community with concerns regarding making masking optional, and the reduction of any of the current safety protocols that are put in place to ensure the safety of each member of our school community:  We hear you!  Many district employees not only empathize with this position but fully support it.

With that being said, since the start of the pandemic, we have followed all public health requirements and guidance, with our primary goal being to maintain in-person instruction.  We have been fortunate that so far in the 21-22 school year we have not lost any in-person school days due to the pandemic!  We understand that when decisions are made, they affect families, students, and staff members differently.  We will continue to try to do our best to support ALL students in our district moving forward.

Last week, a path was described by Oregon Health Authority (OHA) that could remove not only the statewide indoor mask mandate, but the K-12 schools mask mandate.  While there are a lot of details, information to share, and impacts that need to be problem solved as a result of such a change.  I would expect we will do as we have always done, and follow the recommendations.  If the recommendation of OHA is to strongly advise and not require, then that is what I expect I will implement here in Fern Ridge.  We will strongly advise, not require.  If the district moves to this, it will impact families differently, just as the mask mandate has.  I wanted to share this information as soon as possible so everyone will have time to prepare for the potential change.  I will also emphasize that it is impossible to make a final decision at this time, as we are 6 weeks away, and much needs to be done over the course of the next 6 weeks before this move can occur.  That would include:

  • THE DISTRICT NEEDS TO STAY UP TO DATE ON THE CHANGES: The information being put out by Oregon Department of Education is currently being reviewed, and reviewed again, by district staff. The most current information regarding the mask mandate that has been put out by OHA can be found at this link:  CLICK HERE.
  • EDUCATE:
    • Ensure everyone is fully informed in regards to the fact that if masks are optional in school, MORE STUDENTS will be forced to isolate and or quarantine as the result of being a close contact. Currently, we are able to operate as only having close contacts at lunchtime and athletics.  When masking becomes recommended and not required, we have to follow quarantine/isolation requirements.
    • Ensure everyone is fully informed in regards to the fact that Lane County Public Health plays a role in this decision, and retains ultimate authority if they want to mandate something as they are a “local official.” As I have done since the start of the pandemic, we will advocate for local control.
    • Ensure everyone understands that as conditions change, outbreaks occur, etc… we could return to requiring masks even if we go to optional masking on March 31st.
    • While it has been critical throughout the pandemic, it will be even MORE CRITICAL that parents keep their students home when they are sick.
  • Input from staff: We will be informally talking with all our staff in the coming weeks to get their thoughts on such a change.
  • Input from Parents/Community: The various ways to provide input include:

As we continue to work through this in the days to come, updates will be posted on the website whenever appropriate.

 

A potential date has been set for the end of the statewide indoor mask mandate, as well as potentially for K-12 schools.

Starting March 31st, after Spring Break, assuming hospitalizations are where the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) modeling has predicted, each school district in cooperation with local public health authorities will be given the responsibility to determine masking requirements for its students, staff, and school volunteers.  All current District COVID protocols are still in place and will continue through March.  

Next Steps:

  • The decisions on our path forward will take some time.  Please understand we just received this news today, and there is a lot to digest.
  • Over the next several weeks, I will be working with our staff, families, and school board to determine the best course of action.
  • Please continue to reinforce health and safety protocols.  The Omicron variant of COVID has not yet reached its peak in Lane County and we hope to be able to continue to keep our schools open, and as many students attending as possible.

Good news:  It is good news that the OHA believes the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID, and the number of hospitalizations, will drop significantly by the end of March.  It is good news that control is being given to local districts, as each school district, city/county is different.

Plans continue to change, sometimes with little notice.  The last two years have confirmed that uncertainty is the one thing we can count on.  Your continued patience and flexibility is essential in helping to keep our kids in school.  I will provide updates for you as soon as there is news to share.  Feel free to reach out to me with questions but be aware that I may have more questions than answers at this moment.

Gary E. Carpenter, Jr.

Superintendent, FRSD.

 

Thank you to all of our families that were in our facilities after school hours Friday night and over the weekend for basketball.

At our home basketball game Friday night, we had the vast majority of fans doing what they need to do to allow us to continue to offer indoor athletics this winter.  In addition, I visited TSP games this weekend and compliance was excellent.  If we continue to wear masks, and wear them appropriately, it will be a tremendous help in regards to allowing the District to continue to offer these opportunities over the next several weeks.

With Spring sports occurring outside, the restrictions and requirements will be much less for track, softball and baseball.  We look forward to not having to enforce as many protocols, with our only primary mitigation being to encourage and enforce social distancing as best as we can.  Thank you again for your willingness to do what we needed to do this weekend.  Please continue to do so in the coming weeks.

Finally, I also wanted to take a minute to thank the NUMEROUS volunteers that give lots of hours to youth sports throughout our community in order to afford our youth these important experiences.

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.

 

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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 

88834 Territorial Rd.

Elmira, OR 97437

            

ODE Fall 2021 Title IX Sexual Harassment Training_September 20, 2021

 

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