School districts look toward fall, as guidelines are released

MEDFORD, Ore. — With families wondering what schools will look like in the fall, the Oregon Department of Education is offering some guidance. School districts are now faced with many decisions with how to implement all the changes.

“How do we ensure that all of our learners are able to learn well in whatever the environment is,” Dr. Brett Champion, Medford School District Superintendent, said.

Official guidelines were released Wednesday, forcing districts to choose between three education models for the fall.

“We call it brick and click. Are we going to be full school in a brick and mortar setting or are we going to be full click in a distance learning setting or are we going we have a hybrid model that falls somewhere between the two?” Dr. Champion said.

Dr. Brett Champion says they’ll most likely do the combo.

“Ensure that our students and our staff are back in brick and mortar as much as possible, recognizing that there are going to be some times, working with our local health department, that we are going to need to move into some distance learning,” Dr. Champion said.

But that decision is the first of many for school districts across the state.

“There is nothing that’s off the table right now,” Dr. Champion said.

All schools must establish a minimum of 35 square feet per person per classroom, which has the Medford School District strategizing on how to maximize space.

“How could we use cafeteria spaces, for example if we wanted to use that as an offset for some of our classes? How might we do that? How might we use gym spaces?” Dr. Champion said.

He says cleaning services will be ramped up around the school and on buses. Playgrounds will need to be sanitized between each group of students.

Face masks are required for most staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and recommended for students over the age of 12. But with all the new requirements, school districts are faced with new expenses and wondering how they’ll afford it.

“We look forward to our conversation with legislators as they go into a special session sometime this summer to talk about how we’re going to be able to pay for some of the things that are now going to be required for schools,” Dr. Champion said.

Dr. Champion says the Medford School District is brainstorming specifics for the fall and will have a plan by August 15, at the latest.

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Anna Weeks
Anna Weeks is the anchor of NBC5 News at 5 and 11 and Your Place @7 with Anna Weeks. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. Originally from the Portland area, Anna loves exploring Southern Oregon. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, and watching sports.
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