Students and staff return to class in EP

EAGLE POINT, Ore. — Some students in the Eagle Point School District began returning to the classroom in-person Monday.

Students have the option to stay home with comprehensive distance learning or they can go back to campus using a socially-distanced hybrid model.

Following a 10-month hiatus from in-person learning, a buzz of excitement is floating around the school district.

School is back in class.

Table Rock Elementary principal, Valerie Shehorn, says Pre-K through 5th grade are back on campus 5 days a week.

“The kids are happy, it’s a bit of normalcy in our lives and it feels more like school,” said Shehorn.

Around 200 students of Shehorn’s opted out of in-person learning. More than 500 are back on campus, with an average of 20 students in each class.

“We have made arrangements in our classrooms based on square footage, how many students are in the classroom, we’ve scheduled lunch breaks and recess breaks to reduce the number of kids in any one area to ensure that we’re meeting the 100 contact within a week,” Shehorn said.

Shehorn says the elementary school is following a strict protocol to make sure students and staff are safe. Masks are required for all grades.

“Students have an intake process when they get here, we screen kids and take temperatures.”

For secondary students, in-person learning is only a little bit different. Older students follow what the district calls an ‘A / B’ schedule.

The schedule alternates days of school for students based on their addresses.

School superintendent, Andy Kovach, says this is due to transportation.

Despite the changes, students I spoke with say they’re happy to be back amongst their classmates.

“Coming back to class, I don’t know, I’ll just have better chances of paying more attention to classes and stuff so I won’t get distracted by the TV or something,” said Eagle Point High School senior Cleb Arteaga.

“Honestly, it’s a lot better being here at school with people just because humans are social animals,” said Eagle Point High School sophomore, Issac Hill.

The superintendent says families have to decide by February 1st whether they will return to class or stay online the rest of the year.

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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