▶️ BLP parents, teachers and students prepare to start online learning Sept. 14

By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY

Like many parents, Sara Gaarde has concerns about the upcoming school year.

“It’s just kind of sad I’m not able to send my daughter off to school on Monday,” Gaarde said. “The challenge is figuring out how to go to work and provide guidance for her while she’s at school.”

Gaarde stopped by Juniper Elementary Thursday, where students and parents were meeting teachers and picking up workbooks and iPads.

At the school, teacher Stacy Wilhelmsen tried to ease parent’s fears.

“This isn’t how we usually start our year and so it’s a nice time to see the faces and connect and see there’s a person behind the screen,” Wilhelmsen said.

This week, students and parents across the Bend La Pine School District will stop by schools to pick up materials and meet their teachers. But they won’t be returning to those schools for a while.

On Monday, kindergarten through 12th grade will start their first day of school online.

“There’s a sense of camaraderie and a sense of us being in it together,” Wilhelmsen said.

As Wilhelmsen nears the first day of school, her focus is making sure her students all have an equal chance at learning.

“The equity piece is really at the forefront of our minds of how to make this most equitable and accessible for all students,” Wilhelmsen said. “We’re troubleshooting and figuring out barriers kids will have in their homes or wherever they’re learning.”

Principal Dan Wolnick said it’s important for parents to review the school’s schedule and prepare a space where kids can learn.

“The most important thing to remember is this is like a normal school day,” Wolnick said. “We have a schedule and routines we’re following. It’s really important to follow that schedule.”

Bend La Pine will reevaluate the COVID situation in six weeks to determine if classes will remain online or if in-person learning could be an option.

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