Klamath County students could return to classrooms in 2 weeks

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The Klamath County School District is planning on returning students to classrooms on November 16.

The district issued the following statement on November 2:

District administrators met today (Nov. 2) to discuss the new state COVID-19 metrics and to decide when the district could reopen its larger and suburban schools to 4th-12th-grade students. Klamath County Public Health tentatively approved the Nov. 16 date based on current 14-day metrics and the district’s success in fully reopening its small, rural schools and providing hybrid in-person instruction to kindergarteners, first-, second-, and third-graders districtwide.

“We are excited to be able to reopen all of our schools to in-person learning,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District. “We’d like to do it even sooner but we need some time to make the transition.”

Schools must meet all ODE Ready Schools, Safe Learners requirements and guidelines. Challenges include organizing transportation, managing student cohort sizes, and providing 35-square-foot of space per student in classrooms. Students and staff will need to follow all safety protocols, including wearing face coverings and following social distancing rules.

Schools will be contacting families about transportation and other details in preparation for reopening. Students will be assigned a cohort and attend under a hybrid model (in-person classes two days a week and distance learning the other days).

The district also needs to determine if any of its KCSD Online students plan to return to the classrooms. KCSD Online programs will continue.

Under new state guidance released Friday, Klamath County COVID-19 metrics qualify districts to bring back elementary students for hybrid and on-site instruction. That guidance also allows districts to phase in junior high and high school in-person instruction once they demonstrate the ability to limit transmission in the school environment.

Klamath County Public Health officials say the district has already done that. KCSD has offered in-person instruction since Sept. 8, when all its K-3 students returned to classrooms under an A/B hybrid model (two days in-person instruction; three days distance learning). All students (K-12) in its smaller, rural schools started school Sept. 8 under a hybrid model, and four of those schools have now reopened fully with students attending four days a week.

Lost River Junior/Senior High School and Merrill and Malin elementary schools have reopened fully, offering in-person instruction four days a week. Bonanza Junior/Senior High School transitioned from hybrid to four days a week today (Nov. 2). Chiloquin Junior/Senior High School and Chiloquin Elementary School will continue plans to reopen to in-person hybrid instruction Tuesday.

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