Local school districts wait for approval on new CDC guidance

MEDFORD, Ore. – The CDC announcing a major change for schools, but it remains to be seen how soon they could be implemented locally.

The CDC releasing new guidelines for spacing within classrooms nationwide Friday. Rather than students spaced 6-feet apart, it says districts can now allow spacing of 3-feet. That’s a major win for local schools, but Oregon won’t let schools make the change just yet. If the state allows this new rule schools can go back to in-person learning.

“We look forward to the day we have all of our students in our classrooms,” said Medford School District Superintendent Bret Champion, “It doesn’t have any impact on our operations until the Oregon Department of Education the guidance.”

Friday the CDC announced school social distancing guidelines in classrooms could be cut in half, from 6 feet apart, to 3. But the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education haven’t approved the federal recommendation.

“We believe that the Oregon Department of Education is going to change this guidance. We have no authority or control to make that happen,” said Champion.

As the districts await that decision each district is looking at how the change will work for them. The Medford School District already has K-3rd graders in-person 4 days a week. Superintendent Champion said bringing in 4th-12th graders won’t be an issue once they get the thumbs up.

All Grants Pass School District 7 students are still in a hybrid learning model. But if this rule change takes effect, Superintendent Kirk Kolb said it would be a game-changer. It would allow many students to come back to full-time in-person learning.

“We found a way to get all of our first graders starting on Monday after spring break to be in all day, every day, 5 days a week,” said Kolb.

For older students, it might take more time, but Kolb said the goal is for every student to be back in-person, and any change would be a step in the right direction.

“Just putting all of the kids back in school is not something we can do at the snap of our fingers,” said Kolb.

The state doesn’t have a timeline on when it will discuss the CDC’s change, but local districts are hopeful it’ll get approved next week.

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