GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The Grants Pass School District is moving toward getting more students into classrooms now that state officials have loosened coronavirus metrics, the District announced on Tuesday.
GPSD has been teaching K-3 students on a hybrid model, but the state's original metrics prevented in-person learning for higher grades. Now, the District says, it will begin phasing in those higher grades, beginning with 4th and 5th grade students.
“We are excited to bring more students back to school and do it in the safest way possible for students and staff,” said Superintendent Kirk Kolb. “We know that in-person learning is essential. Our surveys have showed overwhelmingly that students, staff, and families desire in-person learning opportunities.”
The gradual phase-in is a requirement under Oregon Department of Education guidance, because Josephine County is currently in the "yellow" based on recent COVID-19 case rates.
Grades 4-5 will return on a hybrid model beginning the week after Thanksgiving, on November 30. If that phase-in is accomplished without any coronavirus outbreaks, grades 6-8 will begin with a target date of January 4.
Finally, high school students will be brought in with a hybrid model if the 6-8 grade transition goes off without a hitch. The target date for grades 9-12 is at the start of the third quarter.
“We are committed to making that possible within the confines of state guidance, but it’s imperative that our community take the necessary precautions to flatten the curve and ensure our schools can open and stay open,” Kolb concluded.
While Josephine County has not seen the kind of surge in COVID-19 cases that neighboring Jackson County has, case counts have been trending upward. It remains to be seen how school plans could be altered if that continues.