Fern Ridge School District

Lane County Public Works wants to be sure that parents have a voice in potential herbicide use near school bus stops. You can enroll your child’s bus stop into the No Spray Area program by filling out a short form available on the Lane County website at www.lanecounty.org/vegetation or by calling 541-682-8521 to request a paper application.

Lane County Public Works Letter to  Parents

Carta de obras públicas del condado de Lane

Over the past three weeks, we have experienced nearly as many positive COVID tests with staff and students in our school community, as we have in the past 18 months.  With each positive test, there are actions the district must take, and those are beginning to take a toll.  Those have included disruption to summer school, quarantining  for the student or staff member that is sick, and quarantining (for those not vaccinated) for anyone identified as a meeting the definition of a close contact.

Today we had a positive test within the EHS Football program.  I just met with District staff and multiple football coaches to problem solve this issue.  The nature of football, being a sport that requires significant amounts of “close contact”, it does not take much to meet the cumulative 15 minutes within 6 feet standard (when not wearing a mask outside), that defines a close contact.  As a group we agreed the only reasonable course of action is to cease football operations for a total of 14 days.  I have communicated with Lane County Public Health, and they agreed.  We believe this action gives us the best chance of playing football this season.  Football practice will resume on September 1st.  Coaches and athletes that are vaccinated, may continue to practice, but should monitor themselves closely for symptoms.  Coach Peeler and his coaching staff will be reaching out to families that have been most closely connected to the sick student.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to him.  Coaches will also be meeting to discuss practices for those students that have been vaccinated, and do not need to isolate, as well as potentially some “virtual practices” or “classroom sessions” over Zoom.

As a reminder to all our student athletes, and staff as well, the best way to protect yourself is with a vaccine, and it is the ONLY way to avoid being required to quarantine when you have been identified as a close contact.  Myself, the H.S. administration, and certainly our football coaching staff are devastated that we have to take this action, we hope for a quick recovery for the sick student, a quick return to football practices and the ability to have a football season this year.  We believe this action gives us the best opportunity to achieve that goal.


Registration Information

Due to Governor Kate Brown’s mask mandate, masks are required at all indoor registration tables

Elmira/Veneta Elementary Schools

Wednesday, August 18th (New Students/Kindergarten) 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
Tuesday, August 24th (All Students) 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 25th (All Students) 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
Thursday, August 26th (All Students) 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Incoming Kindergarten and New Students:  Please bring a copy of your student’s birth certificate, proof of residency, and current immunization information.

As in past years, Elmira and Veneta Elementary Schools will have a school supply fee of $30.  The school supply fee covers all needed classroom supplies.

Elmira Elementary School: 541-935-8214

Veneta Elementary School: 541-935-8225

Fern Ridge Middle School

New and returning families can start the registration process online.  Families will still need to stop by the school to pay the registration/activity/planner fee of $10 and purchase a PE shirt for $7.

Wednesday, August 18th (New Students/Incoming 6th Graders) 12:00pm – 8:00 pm
Tuesday, August 24th (All Students) 7:00 am to 7:00 pm
Wednesday, August 25th (All Students) 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
Thursday, August 26th (All Students) 8:00 am to 12:00 pm

Families new to Fern Ridge will need to bring your student’s birth certificate, proof of residency, and current immunization information.

Fern Ridge Middle School: 541-935-8230

Elmira High School

Seniors: Wednesday, August 25th 8:00 am to 11:00 am
Juniors: Thursday, August 26th 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Sophomores: Wednesday, August 25th 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Freshman: Thursday, August 26th 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Elmira High School: 541-935-8200


EHS athletes and parents:  As has been the norm for the past 18 months, changes are coming at us rapidly.  However, we are confident we are prepared to implement all required safety protocols as we begin Fall Sports practices tomorrow, August 16th.  Below is a summary of how we will be operating.  Of course these are subject to change as we get new directives.  The new rule, that took effect August 13th, can be read here:  (OAR 333-019-1025)

OUTDOOR ATHLETICS:  When athletes are outside at practice, we will continue to promote social distancing as much as possible, masks will be optional.  When we have outdoor “contests/games” masks will be strongly recommended for fans that attend, but not required.  Social distancing around the field and in the grandstands is encouraged.

INDOOR ATHLETICS:  We have been given some leeway for athletics that occur after school, when athletes are inside.  Athletes that are actively “practicing or playing” will have the option to wear a mask or not.  When in team meetings (we will encourage outside team meetings when possible), on the sideline during a game, in the locker room, watching film etc…. masks will be required for athletes while inside.  In addition, for all fans and game personnel (clock runners, announcers, officials) masks are required regardless of vaccination status as long as the state-wide indoor mask mandate is in place.  Once lifted, we will re-evaluate this requirement.

OTHER SCHOOLS:  When traveling to other schools/districts, we will abide by all of their local decisions related to masking coaches, athletes and spectators.  Failure to follow the expectations set forth by FRSD, or when visiting other schools, may result in the loss of the opportunity to attend further events.

The School Board Meeting and Notice for Monday, August 16, 2021 to be held virtually at 6:30 pm has been posted.  Due to a significant rise in COVID-19 infection rates both in Lane County and here in our local community, the Board will be meeting virtually for the August and September meetings, at which time a return to in-person meeting will be re-evaluated.

This meeting can be viewed on Zoom with the information below.

Public comment will be accepted via email at mcook@fernridge.k12.or.us.  Please submit you email comments by 4:00 pm on Monday, August 16, 2021.  Comments must be able to be read into record within the three minute time limit and include the full name and address of the sender.

Agenda items include: Flag Salute, Public Comment, Approval of Minutes, ART, Inc Report, Orchid Health Clinic Update, English Language Learner Report, Superintendent’s Report, West Lane Charter School Annual Review, Budge Committee Vacancies, OPTIONS Program Course Approval, School Board Meeting Adjustment for March 2021, Personnel: Licensed, Non-Licensed Personnel Report, Late Items/Closing Comments.

To access the agenda click here.  This will take you to the Fern Ridge SD 28J BoardBook site where you can review board meeting agendas, attachments, and minutes.  For more information contact 541-935-2253 Ext. 1203 or www.fernridge.k12.or.us.

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Find your local number: https://fernridge-k12-or-us.zoom.us/u/kcfqXA0cHI

To:      Oregon Superintendents and Principals
Date:   August 12, 2021
Re:      Parents and Families are Invited to Participate in a Town Hall with State’s
Top Education & Health Officials

Dear Superintendents and Principals,

We’re reaching out for your help and support to invite local parents and families to attend one of two Facebook Live Town Hall events next week, hosted by Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill, Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen, and State Epidemiologist Dean Sidelinger.

We encourage you to share the message below (in English and Spanish) with parents and families through your social networks and other communication channels.

Thank you!

Dear Parents and Families,

As a state and community, we have a shared goal to ensure that every student in Oregon is able to attend school in-person, every school day for the entire 2021-22 school year. In order to do so, we are prioritizing student and staff health and safety.

The Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority recently shared requirements for face coverings in K-12 schools. We know you may have questions about this requirement and as a community, we have an opportunity to join state education and health officials during one of two Facebook Live Town Hall events:

Please note that a Facebook account is not required to access these events.

Participants will be invited to share questions during the events and can also submit questions ahead of time by using this Google Form.

For Communicating with Spanish Speaking Families:

Requisitos para el uso de cubrebocas en escuelas K-12: Preguntas y respuestas en vivo en todo el est

Como estado y comunidad, nuestra meta es asegurar que cada estudiante en Oregon pueda asistir a la escuela en persona, todos los días escolares durante todo el año escolar. Para hacerlo, estamos dando prioridad a la salud y seguridad de los estudiantes y del personal de las escuelas.

El Departamento de Educación de Oregon y el Oregon Health Authority compartieron recientemente el cambio en los requisitos para el uso de cubrebocas en las escuelas de grados Kínder a 12. Sabemos que puede tener preguntas sobre este nuevo requisito. Invitamos a todos los residentes de Oregon a que acompañen a los funcionarios estatales de educación y salud en un evento de Facebook Live el miércoles 18 de agosto.

Invitaremos a las personas a que compartan sus preguntas durante el evento y también pueden enviar preguntas con anticipación mediante este formulario de Google: https://forms.gle/zfkSoiWKU3apCwxU6

Contact Information & Resources:

For general feedback – ODECovid19@ode.state.or.us
For questions about the events – morgan.zimmerman@ode.state.or.us

Visit the Ready Schools, Safe Learners webpage for the latest information on the 2021-22 school year.

FRSD Families,

On July 23rd, the new guidelines referred to as the “Ready School, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-2022 School Year” were released stating that there would be local control regarding health and safety requirements, including mask mandates. Over the course of the next few days I reviewed local health data, analyzed what had occurred and was currently occurring in our schools, and consolidated all of our safety precautions, which included strongly encouraging masks but not requiring them.  I then presented that plan to Lane County Public Health and received their support.

On July 26th, I posted an update regarding all of the safety protocols the district was working on (and were approved by LCPH), to give parents at least a sense of where we were headed for school in the Fall. That post can be read by clicking here.  The next day, the CDC revised its guidance on masks due to increasing numbers of infection due to the Delta variant. The guidance can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/k-12-guidance.html.  On July 29th, the Governor announced that an OHA/ODE order would be coming soon, requiring masks in schools in the Fall.  This has taken the decision out of our hands.

I attended a meeting this past Monday where it was made clear what the penalties would be for not following this order.  Penalties include fines of $500 per day, per school, per student, loss of state licensure for administrators and teachers, loss of legislative liability protections for districts that were enacted during the last legislative session, and personal liability for Superintendents or board members that choose to defy the order.  While a lot can change over the course of a few days, not to mention a month, as we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, I fully expect to follow the requirements that are being placed on us.

Below are some additional pieces of information in bullet form to help keep our parents informed of what is happening and their options:

  • While this issue has developed into an extremely polarizing one for the community, know that our focus in FRSD continues to be on educating students, having full days of school, and supporting as many folks in different circumstances as we can.
  • The order only applies to school hours, during the regular school day.
  • What occurs after school, in extracurriculars for example, is still up for local decision making.  I have sent a framework of what I could support to our High School Administrative team regarding athletics.  They are working on forming a committee that will be meeting soon. The team is made up of parents from the EHS Booster Club, EHS Administrators, and Coaches. They will review the framework I have given them and provide their recommendations.  I hope to have the results of this up/out by the end of the week.
  • When ODE was asked about the differences of masking requirements once a student moves from 7th period Math, to volleyball (for example), it was shared that the differences in requirements are due to the fact that after school activities are optional, while students are required to be in school.
  • The current mask requirement may cause some families to choose different educational options this Fall, including home school. We are here to help and support you if you choose this option.
  • I would encourage families to pursue what works best for them and return when and if you and your children are ready to do so.  As we did last year, we will continue to provide our online OPTIONS program K-12.  Their website can be viewed by clicking here.
  • I am hopeful that we will soon get back to a position of local control.  That does not mean the mask mandate will go away immediately when that occurs.  When local control returns, I will proceed as we did at the end of July.  We will be reviewing local health data, analyze/review what is happening in our schools, and will look to get support from LCPH regarding any changes in our protocols.
  • When masks become encouraged but not required (I am assuming this will occur at some point), it may impact other families that look to pursue different educational options.  Just as we are doing now, we will also support those families as best as we can and trust that you are doing what is best based on your circumstances.
  • Keeping our schools open, and our students healthy and in school is our number one priority. A significant help with that is the recent change in the definition of what a “close contact” is.  An example of how this new order impacts keeping students in school:  During summer school, we had a case of COVID-19 in a building.  19 students and 2 staff members were required to isolate/quarantine due to being a close contact.  The fact that everyone was wearing a mask at the time, had no bearing on whether or not you were a close contact, based on the previous definition, and summer school ended for everyone in that classroom.  The new definition states that even if a person in our schools develops symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19, if we were maintaining 3 feet of distance and wearing masks, we DO NOT have to enforce isolation or quarantines.  This will be a huge benefit that results from wearing masks, and will greatly reduce the number of times we have to contact families and inform them their student is now out of school for 14 days, and keeping us away from our primary focus of having students in school!
  • Local current data has Lane County, and even our local community, experiencing an uptick in both the % test positivity and total positive tests.  This has resulted in multiple local businesses closing.  Closing our schools is the LAST thing we want to do as we understand the significant hardship that places on our students and families.
  • It should be clear that the district decisions on safety protocols comes from the Superintendent, not from the school board, as do all of the daily operational decisions.  I will continue to stay as informed as possible through meetings and conversations with parents, staff, Lane County Public Health, ODE, OHA and other local leaders.  I, along with most of the Superintendents in Oregon, continue to advocate for local control as the circumstances and local metrics can vary widely from community to community.

We will continue to inform families as things change.

Gary E. Carpenter, Jr.  Superintendent, FRSD 28J

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 toFruit in baskets at a grocery store 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 ebt.schoolmeals@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Please see the Oregon P-EBT link below for more details:


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



District Calendar

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