MSD Superintendent Champion discusses return to in-person learning

MEDFORD, Ore. – The Medford School Dist. has announced the details of its return to in-person learning next month. It appears the Medford School Dist. is dipping its toes in the water before deep diving into full-time in-person learning. The education model is a mixture of both in-person and online teaching.

“It’s not something we take lightly in the Medford School Dist. The fact these are literally folks talking about decisions that involve life and death,” said Medford School Dist.’s Superintendent Bret Champion.

But to reopen schools safely, the school district’s task force has created a model to return to some sense of normalcy.

Kindergarten to 1st grade will return to campus four days a week starting February 22nd; 2nd and 3rd graders will do so beginning February 25th. But the week before they’ll have an orientation.

“Students who have not been in school, a lot of them since March 12th, 2020. And so they just need to get reacclimated being in school,” said Champion.

Forth through 12th graders will begin varying hybrid models of in-person and virtual education in March.

“Forever in public education, we tend to say here’s our one model and parents you don’t have any choice beyond that model. Well, we’re excited in the Medford School District that we know have Medford Online Academy,” said Champion.

High schoolers will begin their new education model at the end of March, but unlike North and South, Central High School students will do full in-person learning.

“One of the requirements we have is 6 feet of social distancing and with our older kids those class sizes are a little bit bigger and so we don’t have as much space,” said Champion.

The majority of teachers want students to return to the classroom the concern is safety.

“Every single kid is just wrecked by this and every teacher is too. That’s the hard part, we want to be in schools, we want to be back to normal, but it’s not back to normal,” said 6th-grade Medford teacher, Nick Dunn.

While he understands the hard choices his superiors have to make, he told NBC5 he’s frustrated.

“It seems like a constant battle between we need to worry about a kids mental health versus we need to worry about their physical health,” said Dunn.

While families get to choose between staying online or returning to campus Dunn worries teachers lack options.

“I was told that specifically that basically I could take a leave of absence or find a job in another district. That felt really cruel,” said Dunn.

Dunn said he’s not alone in his concerns. He feels overlooked and thinks some teachers will step away from teaching if only for a short time.

“I think a lot of teachers if they can they’re taking breaks right now. I know that in a way I have not felt as valuable as I used to as a teacher,” said Dunn.

Click HERE for NBC5’s previous article on Medford School District’s Guidelines.

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