By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
In a guest column for The Oregonian, Bend-La Pine Schools Board Co-Chair Carrie McPherson Douglass outlined what she calls “a better plan” for opening schools in the fall, based on her conversations with teachers, parents and doctors.
“Neither the state department of education or local districts are stepping up to innovate or get creative and help solve the problem,” McPherson Douglass said.
Most schools will go back to online learning in the fall unless they can meet strict COVID metrics set by Gov. Kate Brown.
But McPherson Douglass said schools need to work to bring the most vulnerable students back into the classroom first. That includes students who are food insecure or students with disabilities who won’t get the help they need at home.
“We should be able to open classrooms to groups of 10 with all the proper social distancing and masking,” McPherson Douglass said. “That would bring all of our most vulnerable kids back into the classroom sooner.”
She also said a statewide online learning curriculum should be created, so each school district doesn’t have to create their own and teachers don’t have to spend time creating online courses.
“There is K-12 curriculum that already exists,” McPherson Douglass said. “It seems to me we should be using teachers for things an online curriculum can’t do, like providing feedback and providing social-emotional support, and really focusing on teachers on kids and families rather than creating online curriculum.”
McPherson Douglass said not all feedback has been positive from the op-ed, but she does think new ideas need to be proposed to create a productive school year this fall.
“I think in general people appreciate when leaders are willing to propose new ideas and call out when we’re not doing good enough,” McPherson Douglass said. “I’m not naive enough to think an op-ed will change the world, but I do think we need to get ideas out there and challenge thinking.”