By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
A massive and unprecedented summer assignment for Oregon school districts: Design a reopening plan for students to attend school in-person, remotely or a combination of both, in the age of COVID.
“I know it will be a challenge for us. There are numerous recommendations and requirements,” said Lora Nordquist, Bend-La Pine Schools’ interim superintendent. “There are numerous requirements about physical distancing that will prove a challenge.”
Schools must document how they will keep students 6 feet apart, increase disinfecting of common areas, and develop protocols for notifying families and health officials if there is an outbreak of COVID in a school.
Nordquist said Bend-La Pine Schools will put forth a plan.
“We have a fantastic team, fantastic community support. We will have a plan, absolutely. It will be the best education we can provide to students and families given the circumstances and the parameters we’ll work under.”
In contrast, the Crook County School District says the school reopening guidance issued today is just one of many contingencies for which it is prepared.
“When it comes to being ready to reopen, we are going to do just like we did when we were planning to close and be ahead of the curve; be where the ball is going instead of where the ball ends up,” said Sara Johnson, Crook County School Superintendent. “So, we’ll be ready. I think parents are relieved that someone’s working on it and planning for it.”
The Redmond School District said it needed to “unpack the guidance and understand it” before issuing a public statement.
Other local school districts did not return calls before our deadline.
“The guidance covers the safe aspects of safely opening schools and is designed to be updated through the summer and into the school year based on feedback from students, families, educators and community members,” said Colt Gill, Oregon Department of Education Director. “It will be in coordination with the state’s evolving efforts to mitigate COVID 19.”
Schools must submit their plan by August 15th, but more information could be released before then.