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Medford K-12 students will begin school year fully remote; District to reassess every 3 weeks

Superintendent Dr. Bret Champion described a 'rhythm' that the Medford School District will use to regularly decided whether students can return in in-person classes.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 6:00 PM
Updated: Aug 5, 2020 6:29 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Students of the Medford School District will begin the 2020-21 school year with fully remote learning, but Superintendent Dr. Bret Champion says that administrators plan to reassess on a "predictable rhythm" to determine if students can return to class in person.

Oregon school districts have been rapidly modifying their plans for the fall after Governor Kate Brown revealed the state's coronavirus metrics for school reopening on July 28. Dr. Champion said shortly following that announcement that Medford's plans had been "upended" somewhat by those metrics, and the District has been working on a new strategy ever since.

On Wednesday, the Medford School District released its new plans, which will began with all K-12 students learning remotely via Comprehensive Distance Learning.

Dr. Champion said that the District has used a color-coded system to separate the three levels of instruction stipulated by Oregon's metrics. "Green" would allow for all students to have in-person classes, "Yellow" would be only in-person for K-3 students, and "Red" equates to fully remote learning.

As of this week, Medford School District is now in the "Red" based on the number of recent COVID-19 cases in Jackson County alone, Dr. Champion said. Last week, Jackson County's case rate per 100,000 shot up to 42.5, with a test positivity rate of 5.6 percent — both metrics above Oregon's criteria for any in-person learning.

The same metrics currently keeping Medford School District from returning with in-person classes will also affect other school districts in Jackson County, some of which had tentatively planned to start the year with grades K-3 in class.

“Right now, we are very, very, very far from Green,” Dr. Champion underscored.

For that reason, all Medford K-12 students will start school remotely — for at least the first six weeks. However, the District plans to keep revisiting those metrics every three weeks, with the possibility of shifting students back to in-person classes after six weeks.

In theory, the "rhythm" will work like this:

  • All Medford K-12 students begin the year learning remotely.
  • After three weeks, school officials will take a look at the metrics. If Jackson County has solidly returned to "Yellow" or "Green" for those three weeks, teachers and staff will prepare for students to begin in-person classes three weeks later.
  • If those favorable metrics hold, students return to in-person classes — either all students if in the "Green," or K-3 if in the "Yellow."

Like some other local districts, Medford has also launched an online-only learning method that functions separately, dubbed Medford Online Academy. So far, 600 students have signed up for the program, which caters to families who prefer online learning to potential in-person classes.

For students who are in the general population — at the very least beginning the year with Comprehensive Distance Learning — classes will be led by teachers in fairly typical class style for the first half of each day, using Zoom and Canvas to interface. The other half of each school day will be dedicated to other, independent projects or having one-on-one time with teachers.

“You don’t want a kid on Zoom for seven hours every day,” Dr. Champion said.

School begins for Medford School District students on September 8, which means the District will be releasing its first metrics assessment on September 29. The soonest that students could return to in-person classes would be on October 19.

This is a developing story, and will be updated with more details as they emerge.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 33291

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah7257140
Marion474395
Washington458160
Umatilla299841
Clackamas244862
Malheur164230
Lane126717
Jackson11715
Deschutes85912
Yamhill76914
Jefferson5458
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Linn52513
Morrow5096
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Union4462
Benton3226
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Hood River2520
Douglas2394
Clatsop2180
Josephine2032
Columbia1821
Coos1580
Baker952
Crook631
Tillamook530
Lake330
Wallowa321
Curry310
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

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Confirmed Cases: 815654

Reported Deaths: 15782
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Riverside591731216
San Bernardino54849952
Orange535571249
San Diego46985781
Kern32019369
Fresno28517390
Sacramento22438412
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Santa Clara21294318
San Joaquin20357447
Contra Costa16702206
Stanislaus16496359
Tulare16071263
Ventura12812150
Imperial11877317
San Francisco11238101
Monterey1000872
San Mateo9950150
Santa Barbara9133113
Merced8939143
Kings766180
Sonoma7412122
Marin6727118
Solano641969
Madera455765
San Luis Obispo359729
Placer359645
Butte283744
Yolo282555
Santa Cruz23799
Sutter171711
Napa170513
San Benito134811
Yuba11588
El Dorado11444
Mendocino93918
Shasta88320
Lassen7410
Glenn5933
Tehama5795
Lake55911
Nevada5407
Colusa5326
Humboldt5098
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18815
Mono1662
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa762
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
Sierra60
Alpine20
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