Oregon Dept. of Education guideline exception allows for limited in-person instruction

JACKSON CO., Or.- The Oregon Department of Education is allowing some in-person learning right now through an exception. It’s for students with specific circumstances who may benefit from being back in class.

“We’re looking to bring in as many kids as possible that could be supported by the in-person learning model,” Phoenix-Talent School District Superintendent Brent Barry.

Jackson County school districts are beginning to take advantage of an Oregon Department of Education rule change allowing limited in-person instruction.

At Phoenix-Talent, where many students are already dealing with the aftermath of the Almeda fire, Superintendent Barry says digital learning is a struggle for some.

“Connectivity is a big thing for us in distance learning right now and some kids and families just don’t have the means for that connectivity for that distance learning format.”

The ODE plan allows students struggling with course work, families with connectivity issues, and English language learners to come back to class in limited numbers. They must wear masks.

ODE’s Communications Director says it was created because younger students get the virus at lower rates, get less sick, and may spread the virus less.

“We can only bring in students in groups of ten, and they can only have two cohorts. And the students come in for a maximum of two hours a day.” Eagle Point School District’s Joni Parsons says. Her district started offering the option at the end of September.

“Not all of our schools have started with limited in-person instruction because we want each school to have the autonomy to decide if its right for them.”

At Phoenix-Talent, Superintendent Barry is a huge supporter of the option. To him it isn’t just about adjusting to the unique learning options schools have to deal with now, it’s about supporting families during a traumatic time.

“How they can help support those districts for in-person learning and really support the social and emotional health of our kids and families. So we hope to find that out very soon.”

Superintendent Barry told me they are working with ODE, the Oregon Health Authority, and the Governor’s office to get even more impacted students into classrooms. We don’t know if Ashland is taking advantage of the option, as they didn’t call us back.

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