Medford School District considers plans for next school year

MEDFORD, Ore. — Southern Oregon school districts are making plans to get kids back in the classroom this fall safely. While plans vary district to district, some are allowing groups of students back in the building five days a week.

Medford School District hasn’t released its plan yet, but they are already considering having some of its youngest learners in school five days a week.

“We always began our plans with where is our highest need, start there and build a plan,” Medford School District Superintendent, Dr. Bret Champion said. “Our highest need was our elementary kids and our most vulnerable learners.”

Schools in southern Oregon are focused on getting back to in-person education after ending the spring with almost two months of online and distance learning. While plans for schools are still tentative right now, Medford School District is looking at an option that puts elementary school students in the school building almost full time.

“There are just some of these foundational things that we do at the elementary level that take adult and student interaction and working through them to make them possible,” Champion said.
This means that young learners and those students who need more hands-on education will be in-school five days a week.
“Most of our elementary schools will need to be one class split between two classrooms,” Dr. Champion said.
That plan is very similar to eagle point and grants pass school district’s already released plan. Grants Pass School District said it’s getting a lot of support.

“Teachers tell us from surveys overwhelmingly we need to get back with kids, overwhelmingly teachers want to be back,” Grants Pass School District Superintendent, Kirk Kolb said.

It’s not just teachers and staff though. Champion says in-person learning is supported across the board this coming school year, and getting the younger students into classrooms is that first step.

“The reason that face to face makes the most sense, in my view, is because in all the messiness that learning is, in the best learning there is a guide to help pull us through to where we actually learn things,” Champion said.

In current school district plans, middle and high schoolers’ education is more likely to have a mix of in-person and distance learning.
Another issue that Medford School District is looking to address with this plan is the problem of social distancing while on school buses. The district said it’s looking at a lot of different options. The one thing they said is it will not be buying new buses to add to their routes.

Other options on the table are masks for everyone on buses, plexiglass between seats and the driver or decreasing some of the spacing from six feet to three feet. The district said it’s surveying parents to see what they prefer.

Medford School District is planning to release its plan this Monday. Grants Pass School District’s tentative plan is live on their website now.

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