EDITOR’S NOTE: All three Tillamook County school districts – Nestucca and Neah-Kah-Nie – have announced starting the school year with distant learning. Here is Tillamook School District’s letter to families; see end of article for links to the Neah-Kah-Nie and Nestucca letters/information to community and families.
By Curt Shelley, Tillamook School District #9 Superintendent
After reading the most current guidance provided by the Oregon Department of Education and Governor Kate Brown, monitoring the current situation of increase in cases in Tillamook County, the review of parent and staff surveys, and much deliberation, the Tillamook School District has decided to start the 2020-2021 school year utilizing the Comprehensive Distance Learning Model (CDL) for trimester one.
We know that this will provide many of you a great deal of relief and others will be very frustrated. We know this is going to create hardship for many working families. We also know that the cases of COVID-19 in Oregon continue to escalate as do the number of cases in the state’s youngest populations. In recent meetings with state officials, we were told that when we return to in-person learning, even with the required safety protocols, physical distancing, cohorting requirements, and contact tracing, we would have virus outbreaks. Not only would outbreaks have potentially serious health ramifications for those infected (and their families), outbreaks would require the quarantine of students and staff for several weeks and require the shut-down of in-person learning. Repeated opening and closing of classrooms and schools would continue until the virus is better contained. The unpredictability of opening and closing schools over and over is not an effective way to operate a school system. It has the potential of causing trauma for our students as well as putting a strain on families of not knowing from one day to the next or week to the next whether school will be open or closed. In addition, reopening schools to in-person interaction would contribute to the spread of the virus in our community.
Please know that CDL will be very different from the virtual program that we were forced to quickly implement in the spring. We took the input provided by families on our surveys very seriously and have made significant changes to better meet the needs of our students and families. Below please find some of the big changes we will be making based on your input and state guidance:
●Students will receive grades as they typically would on their grade level report cards at the conclusion of each trimester.
●Students will be required to check in with teachers on a daily basis for social-emotional check-ins and academic support. Attendance will be taken.
●We will utilize only one learning management system for coursework. CANVAS will offer a login page where students and parents can access all of the remote learning resources they need.
●Acellus will be utilized as the online curriculum for students in grades K-12. This will be supplemented by classroom teachers to ensure instruction is aligned with state standards and district-adopted curriculum.
●Packets will only be sent on rare occasions for specific students.
●Training will be offered to families for the use of both CANVAS and Acellus.
●Staff will be reporting to buildings daily. Teachers will have office hours allowing parents and students the opportunity to seek individual help.
●Small focus groups (students on IEP’s and 504’s, students receiving ELD services, and students participating in Credit Recovery) will be individually supported.
●Devices can be checked out for all students in need in grades PreK-12. Schedules for checkout will follow as the start of school approaches.
●Opportunities for affordable internet access as well as overall access throughout the community have been a local focus over the summer. As more information is available we will share that with you.
We know that, even with these adjustments, it will not be the same as having students in our seats in our schools. For now, we must err on the side of caution to protect our kids and our staff. It will continue to be our goal to get students back in our schools as soon as we believe it can safely be done.
We hope we can re-evaluate the situation in late November and plan for in-person education. Decisions will continue to be based on Oregon Department of Education and other state level guidance as well as the most current Tillamook COVID data.
We appreciate your support and understanding in this sensitive issue. Thank you in advance for helping your children understand, and for supporting them through these challenging times. We will do our very best to provide your child the support they need to be successful.
Again, please be assured the intent of TSD9 is to return to in-person learning once the metric put in place by the Governor’s office and OHA can be consistently met. As we often say in Tillamook, “It takes a village.” We have an amazing village between our staff, families, and community, and we can, and will, do great things this year.