January 15, 2021
Dear NCSD Families,
Thank you for your ongoing resilience and flexibility as North Clackamas Schools (NCSD) continues navigating the challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic. This letter will update you on NCSD’s plans following Governor Brown’s new guidance regarding school reopening released on December 23.
The Governor called on Oregon’s school districts to work toward the resumption of in-person instruction, prioritizing elementary students, with the hope of transitioning to some in-person instruction. Additionally, the Governor expressed the use of health metrics is now advisory instead of mandatory, while still mandating districts meet all safety requirements in the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Guidance.
NCSD’s Proposed Strategy for Returning to In-Person Instruction:
At last night’s school board meeting, our superintendent shared the following recommendations to the Board of Directors:
- Once all state health metrics have been met for two consecutive weeks, transition to an elementary hybrid model (partially in-person and partially online) for grades K-1. The earliest this transition would happen is February 16.
- As long as the state health metrics continue to be met, approximately two weeks after implementing the K-1 elementary hybrid, grades 2-3 will transition to the hybrid model.
- All other grades will remain in comprehensive distance learning.
- At the same time NCSD starts offering hybrid learning for K-1 students, the district will begin to provide Limited In-Person Instruction (LIPI) for small cohorts of students from all grade levels who need additional on-site academic and/or social-emotional support. LIPI does not replace comprehensive distance learning.
- Allow high schools to participate in Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA)-approved and designated high school activities following all safety and health protocols for athletes, coaches, and spectators outlined by the Oregon Health Authority and OSAA.
In addition to these recommendations, a majority of the board expressed wanting to wait until a COVID-19 vaccination was available to district employees before implementing these in-person recommendations. With the Governor’s announcement on Tuesday, it is believed that K-12 employees will begin to have access to the vaccine in the coming weeks.
The board will continue their discussions on returning to in-person instruction at their next meeting.
Important Additional Information:
- For grades K-3, comprehensive distance learning will continue to be offered as we know there are families that will not feel comfortable having their student(s) participate in hybrid learning.
- At this time, there is not a timeframe for when grades other than K-3 could transition to a hybrid model. The timing of other grades depends on the success of the K-3 hybrid rollout, virus infection rates in the community, substitute availability, and cohorting requirements at the secondary level.
- Details regarding the elementary hybrid model can be found here.
- North Clackamas Schools will continue to follow the advisory health metrics for returning to in-person learning as maintaining student and staff safety in our schools is dependent on limited virus spread in the community. Clackamas County is currently not meeting the health metrics for returning to in-person instruction. There is a concern among state health officials of an infection surge in the coming weeks which could delay plans to reopen schools.
- The state has announced potential changes to the state health metrics and safety requirements. Those changes are to be announced on January 19 and could impact the district’s timeline for returning to in-person instruction.
- Should local and/or state COVID-19 statistics rise for whatever reason, NCSD’s plans are subject to change.
Student and Staff Safety in Hybrid and LIPI Models:
The Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance continues being based on scientific research in consultation with health experts. In this guidance, there are over 150 mandatory state requirements in the areas of health protocols, facilities, school operations, and responding to an outbreak that must be documented and operational before school districts are allowed to return students to in-person instruction.
Each NCSD school has a plan specifically tailored to the building that will allow schools to be safe spaces for students and staff, and there is strong scientific evidence to support the safe return of our youngest learners and staff once health metrics are met. NCSD has shared its COVID-19 related health and safety plans with Clackamas County’s Public Health Department, which supports the opening of schools provided required safety protocols are strictly followed and state health metrics for returning to in-person instruction are met.
The state is also working to get schools rapid testing kits that could be used to test students and staff who are demonstrating virus symptoms through the daily screening process. We expect to have more information on this in the coming weeks.
This is where things stand today. We know no solution or timeline will be perfect or be met with universal approval. As has been the case throughout this pandemic, the safety of students and staff guides NCSD’s decision-making. We will continue to communicate with you as we learn more from state health and education officials.
Thank you again for all you are doing to help our students, families, and staff; we remain in this together. Please continue to wear masks, wash your hands, and practice physical distancing. Those actions will help us get students back in school sooner.
North Clackamas Schools