PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Many elementary students in Oregon are returning to the classroom after Governor Kate Brown ordered public schools to reopen.
This Monday, Oregon schools have to meet Governor Brown’s executive order to offer some form of in-person learning for elementary students. It’s been over a year now since schools closed down due to the pandemic.
Some districts, like Salem Keizer, already got their hybrid models up and running in early March while many other school districts will return for the first time on Monday. However — some major districts like Portland Public Schools and Beaverton School District — are running a few days behind the deadline.
This return to school is not fully in-person just yet — students will go to class for two days a week and will continue learning at home on the other days. Plus, if students and parents don’t feel safe, they have the option to stay in comprehensive distance learning.
Schools are required to offer some in-person learning for grades 6 through 12 by April 19.
Remember — since elementary kids are getting back to school this week, be sure to watch out for them at bus stops and to slow down when driving in school zones.
‘It’s been such a hard year’
The walls of Mrs. Flury’s kindergarten classroom at Meadows Elementary still have signs of pre-pandemic learning before the abrupt change a year ago.
“It’s weird because normally you walk in you get the feel of love and laughter, the smell even,” she said. “You don’t get that right now because the kids have been gone.”
Now she and the other teachers are preparing to have students walk through the doors on Thursday — including some will be coming to school for the first time ever.
When the kids come back it will look and feel different. Pre-pandemic there were about 25 kids in the class at once. Now they’ll have 8 at a time because of the social distancing guidelines.
They will also be masked. Teachers and staff will do a lot more cleaning and are taking safety training. Kids will have their own supplies instead of sharing.
Other PPS schools are making similar preparations.
They’ll have elementary school students back to their hybrid learning this week and next. Middle and high school students will start the week of April 19.
Meadows Elementary Principal Lisa Clingan said it will all be worth it to have the kids back in school.
“Truly the idea of kids walking through the door is what has gotten me through this,” she said. “It’s been such a hard year.”