HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — Returning to the classroom in the middle of a pandemic? Not so fast.
That’s what many parent in the Hillsboro School District are saying and district officials said students won’t be in the classroom 5 days a week. There are options, though, that the district will allow parents to choose.
“Right now we’re not exploring any fulltime-back-at-school-for-all-students option because we simply couldn’t meet the requirements for physical distancing both on the bus and in the classroom,” said Beth Graser with the Hillsboro School District.
On Monday the district sent a plan to every family with 3 options for fall learning:
- Hybrid model, where students would go into the classroom 2 or more times a week with distance learning the other days
- Comprehensive Distance Learning, where the student would still be enrolled in their neighborhood school but do all learning off-campus
- Enrolling in the Hillsboro Online Academy, with students continuing online learning even when it’s safe to open the schools
“Staff are going to be able to do things with you in person that aren’t as easy to do online, you know that social emotional support and foundational learning especially for our youngest students,” Graser said.
The district is trying to come up with a model where kindergarten-through-2nd graders go everyday of the week because “those years are so foundational to learning for the rest of their life.”
Jen Turay is one of thousands of parents concerned about their children returning to school in the fall.
“From our perspective the kids are just so much safer just being at home. They are entirely set up, they have their own rooms, they have their own computers,” Turay said. “If you don’t think that it’s safe to be in an office building in a group of more than 10 people, then it’s ridiculous to think that kids are going to be safe in a classroom.”
Hillsboro loaned out about 7000 Chromebooks in the spring and will continue to loan them to students who still need them. They’ve been able to provide free internet in students’ homes thanks to big financial donations.
“We believe that it’s important for students to have that in-person experience although absolutely no judgement on anyone who elects to not come in person because I totally understand,” Graser said.
Turay said her sons will do their studies online. She doesn’t want them on campus until there’s a COVID vaccine.
“I don’t think it’s safe for the kids,” she said, “and it’s not safe for the teachers.”