Lake Oswego elementary students to return in February

Education

Kindergartners begin February 4

Lizzie Dale sprawls on the floor to play games on an iPad as her siblings work on school work in the kitchen behind her in their home in Lake Oswego, Ore., Oct. 30, 2020. In Oregon, one of only a handful of states that has required a partial or statewide closure of schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents in favor of their children returning to in-person learning have voiced their concerns and grievances using social media, petitions, letters to state officials, emotional testimonies at virtual school board meetings and on the steps of the state’s Capitol. (AP Photo/Sara Cline)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The school district for Lake Oswego announced it’s bringing back elementary students to classrooms starting next month.

In-person instruction for elementary students will be gradual, according to a letter from Lake Oswego School District superintendent Dr. Lora de la Cruz, starting with kindergartners on Feb. 4. Then Grades 1 through 5 will resume classes on staggered dates — February 11, 16, 19, 23 and 25, respectively.

“We anticipate returning our middle and high schools to in-person instruction after elementary schools. We will have more details on those specific dates soon. Those in LO Online will remain remote for the school year,” said Lake Oswego Superintendent Dr. Lora de la Cruz in a letter to the district’s teachers.

She noted educators are in the Phase 1B group for vaccinations, although the timing for administering the vaccination remains unclear.

“As such, for the foreseeable future, we will keep adhering to our AM/PM Hybrid in-person model and strict health and safety protocols proven to keep schools safe from transmission,” she wrote.

What the governor’s office said

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Governor Brown’s office said vaccinating educators and school staff is a top priority but they haven’t yet released the prioritization phases beyond Phase 1A.

The plan over the next several weeks continues to be to drive down the infection rates across the state.

“As they have throughout the pandemic, schools must still follow Oregon’s health and safety guidance, such as the use of masks, physical distancing in classrooms, quickly identifying and isolating any COVID-19 cases that do enter a school, and limiting interactions between groups of students,” Brown’s office said. “Moving forward, decisions to reopen schools will be made at the local level with the discretion to apply state metrics to local context, in concert with guidance from local public health — and it is incredibly important that school districts engage in a rigorous local process involving educators, students, and families around local reopening decisions, to make sure they are making the right decisions for their community.”

PPS not ready to reopen yet

Portland Public Schools sent a letter to families and staff to let them know there are ongoing discussions about when and how to bring kids back to class, but nothing has been decided.

“The prospect of opening schools is a complex one, and several key variables in making any decisions to bring students on campus during this pandemic remain. To re-open schools, we urgently need comprehensive practical support from the State. This includes: • clarity regarding vaccine access for school staff, • frequent and free COVID-19 testing for students and staff, • clarity and consistency on changes to safety guidelines from ODE, and • resources for additional staff and staff time to meet those guidelines and prevent transmission in schools,” district officials said in the letter posted on their website.

They noted the COVID metrics in Multnomah County “remain alarmingly high and are expected to increase with a post-holidays spike that could last through February. This trajectory needs to change” before students can return.

“As we continue to plan potential re-entry models, for when conditions will safely permit a return to in-person instruction, we remain in active conversations with our labor partners to expand more limited in-person opportunities for students in the short term.”

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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