ASHLAND, Ore. — Most students in the Ashland School District will start their year away from the classroom, school officials announced on Thursday. The decision to embrace distance learning affects grades 4-12, and may come to include K-3rd grade students as well.
School districts across Oregon have been scrambling to adjust their fall plans following the reveal on Tuesday of the state's coronavirus metrics, which will only allow for in-person instruction if certain benchmarks are met.
From the state-level metrics alone, most students would be unable to attend in-person classes at present. Jackson County's case rate per 100,000 remains too high for a full return to classrooms as well.
"Based on metric trends over the last three weeks, Ashland School District does not meet public health requirements for a safe return to campus at this time," the District said in a message to families. "To allow time for teachers and parents to plan, we will start school in a Distance Learning off-site only model through the first quarter (9 weeks) of the school year."
At this time, the decision to go off-site only pertains to 4th grade and above. The District is still mulling the option of allowing students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade and students with disabilities to attend in-person classes after the school year begins.
"Ashland School District is monitoring local data closely. We will make a decision next week about programs for students in grades K3 based on available data and trends," officials said. "K3 students will start the year with Distance Learning through September 18 with certainty."
School officials said that they hope the county's numbers will improve over time to allow a return to on-site learning for all students. Specific schedules for students are still being developed.
Ashland School District says it will have a state-mandated blueprint for reopening available to the public within two weeks.
"We have received multiple updates on the blueprint requirements throughout summer and important revisions that must be addressed to incorporate a more robust Distance Learning model," the District said. We anticipate that the ASD blueprint will be available to the public on or after August 11."
This year will feature a new online system for staff to use, called Canvas, and school officials said that this year's Distance Learning offering will be an improvement on what was used during the spring.