Local outdoor school adapts to pandemic restrictions

RUCH, Ore. — The pandemic is impacting how schools operate, especially outdoor schools.

The philosophy of ‘Ruch Outdoor Community School’ is to get kids out of the classroom and into nature.

However, as a part of the Medford School District, the school must do distance learning for the first 6 weeks.

Even with the restrictions, Principal Julie Barry says they’re committed to getting kids outdoors.

Whether that’s doing an assignment in their front yard or bringing vulnerable students to the school for in-person learning.

Like other schools, Barry says they’re allowed to bring in cohorts of 10 students or less twice a day.

“When they do come back to Ruch, you can be that there’s going to be outdoor learning going on. So, we’ve established a lot of new spaces where we can put the kids in. We got our community garden, we have our outdoor classes, we have our pollinator gardens,” said Barry.

Service learning is also an important part of the school’s curriculum, where kids do activities like trail management or working with the Star Ranger Station.

The state currently doesn’t allow those type of activities, but Barry hopes restrictions ease in the near future.

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