By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
“This week has been a challenge for us,” Bend resident Chastity Turner on Tuesday.
Her 6th and 9th graders are ready to go back to school.
But the Oregon Department of Education is telling school district leaders, that’s unlikely.
After initial school closures earlier this month suggested schools would be closed for a few weeks, the department announced Monday night that there is a “strong possibility” students will not return for the rest of the school year.
The department also announced the state’s’ Distance Learning for All’ plan, which will require districts to shift from “supplemental education”, to graded, credit-bearing learning.
The announcement and changes have parents like Turner concerned about their children’s education going forward.
“My son, he’s in 9th grade at Bend High, his concern is that he won’t be able to finish his credit and that he’ll have to repeat a portion of 9th grade next year,” said Turner. “We’re all just worried about his schooling and his education and how this is going to look for everybody going forward.”
Central Oregon school districts say they are prepared to continue providing their students with the education they need matter where they are.
“We had a fairly robust plan we were going to roll out,” said Redmond Schools Superintendent Mike McIntosh, “So we’re going to continue that march.”
In Crook County, the district planned to launch an online learning plan on Wednesday.
“Teachers have already been working to put together a plan to deliver education to students so now it means that it will simply be required and students will be able to submit the work,” Crook County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sara Johnson said.
Crook County has provided laptops or tablets to all of its elementary, middle and high school students. It’s also equipped a fleet of buses with wi-fi hotspots for students to utilize, and will have paper packets available for families who don’t wish to use their devices.
McIntosh says Redmond Schools should be rolling out their version of virtual school closer to April 13th, and Bend-La Pine Schools expects to release more information on their plans in the coming days.
Despite the unprecedented situation, educators say they’re doing all they can.
“We’re not dealing in an ideal situation,” said Crook County Schools Assistant Superintendent Joel Hoff. “But our attitude going forward is not to focus on what we can’t do, but focus on what we can do.”