Medford School District preparing for in-person instruction

MEDFORD, Ore. — Parents and students in our area’s largest school district have been waiting for details on students returning to school.

New guidance from the Oregon Department of Education was also released today, which is playing a role in current plans.

In a survey recently conducted by MSD amongst staff and student families, 33% of staff and nearly 58% of families said they were comfortable with more in-person learning, with little to no concern.

Almost 33% of staff and nearly 24% of families said they were comfortable with some concerns.

Then, nearly a third of staff, as well as 20% of families said they were un-comfortable with the idea or had lots of concerns.

“You have folks on both sides of this saying this is life or death if we bring kids in, and I want to be clear, they’re both right,” said MSD superintendent, Bret Champion.

ODE released new guidelines today to assist school districts with new advisory, versus mandatory, metrics.

“They adopted a new set of metrics that were pulled out of Harvard and a couple of other states, Washington and Colorado adopted them as well, that actually increased the case counts to be in red, you have to be at higher number 350 or more to be in the red category.”

According to ODE, this allows a return to in-person instruction for elementary students at higher levels of community case rates than previously recommended.

Champion says rapid testing will also be available.

He says testing must be in place at school districts by March 1st, the self-administered tests are for symptomatic students and staff. Elementary kids will need a guardian’s permission.

Face coverings will also be required for every student.

“Our students who experience disabilities with doctor’s notes and other medical requirements with documentation will be allowed to not wear face coverings and masks,” said Champion.

He says families without exemptions, who don’t want their student wearing a mask, will be provided a transfer to Medford Online Academy.

“We’re just excited that we have a choice for parents, that we’re not in an era that wasn’t too long ago, where we said to parents, here’s your one thing you’re going to do,” Champion said.

Final in-person learning plans will be announced this Thursday.

NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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