Medford School District announces plans for 2020-2021 school year

Medford schools will open a week later, with the first week of school starting on September 7th as a "soft start" for all students, according to a MSD announcement on Monday.

Posted: Jul 13, 2020 7:31 PM
Updated: Jul 20, 2020 12:27 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford School District announced plans for returning students to school in the 2020-2021 school year on Monday along with a video from superintendent Bret Champion about the upcoming school year.

The first week of school has been pushed back a week to September 7th. MSD says the first week will serve as a "soft start" for all its students.

The 27-page framework document, "Medford Forward: Back to School Framework," outlines plans for returning students to schools, starting with the most "vulnerable learners" (English learners and students with disabilities, for example.

Outlined in the plan are some of the health and safety precautions being followed by the school district based on the June guidance from the Oregon Department of Education. Screening is asked to be done at home by family members, including taking the student's temperature and monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19. If a family member or someone in the student's home tests positive for COVID-19, according to the framework, "the student should stay home from school for at least 72 hours."

Staff who "regularly come in close contact with students or the public" will be required to wear face coverings. Face coverings "should be worn by staff and students in 5th-12th grade" and are "essential" when students and teachers cannot maintain physical distancing. Reuseable and disposable masks will be provided by the school district for students and staff who do not have their own. Students will not, however, be punished for refusing to wear a mask.

If any students show symptoms of the coronavirus, they will be sent home as soon as possible and must remain home for at least 72 hours after a fever is gone. Any students who test positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed back at school for a minimum of 14 days.

According to the plan, students from Kindergarten to 6th grade will attend five full days onsite. For students 7th grade-12th grade, a hybrid approach will be used, balancing time on- and off-campus.

At the elementary school level, classrooms will be set up for social distancing, with some classes being spread out between two rooms. If that is the case, a teacher and an educational assistant will work in tandem between the two classrooms.

For the hybrid learning plan for middle and high schoolers, "the goal is to keep students connected with their on-campus teachers as much as possible," according to the Medford Forward plan. Students will be working on a new, trimester schedule, lowering the number of courses per grading period from seven courses to just five. According to the framework, hybrid learning students will have a "predictable schedule with both in-class and in-person instruction in smaller groups while on campus."

There will also be a fully virtual option for students in grades 6-12 who choose to do all their courses online. More information on 'Medford Online' can be found here.

For students who take the bus to school, bus drivers and students will be required to wear masks when on the bus. However, students will not be punished for refusing to wear a mask. Medford School District said that there will be "fewer students" on buses this school year. Buses will be cleaned between routes.

The school district also plans to find a "short-term home for Central Medford High School," which in turn allows the district to open an education center at 815 South Oakdale. That will be used for 5th and 6th-grade education. According to the district's framework, this will allow expanded course offerings for 5th and 6th graders and opens space in elementary schools. The 5th and 6th-grade students from Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Hoover schools will attend classes at Oakdale.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is made available.

Last update - June 13, 8:21 pm

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