MEDFORD, Ore. -- Governor Kate Brown and state officials announced last week that Oregon schools now only have to socially distance three feet instead of six feet while inside classrooms. This is part of the goal to get more student back into classrooms.
As local schools wrap up spring break vacation we're hearing from the Medford Education Association (MEA) and the Medford School District (MSD) about the changes being made to meet these new guidelines.
"Medford teachers, from the beginning, wanted their students back as quickly and as safely as possible. So to that extent, I think we're super excited about this change," said Troy Pomeroy, MEA President.
He said he believes there is a sense of frustration with all the changes schools have gone through this year.
"What people don't realize is that it takes a ton of energy resources, manpower. You mobilize a district of our size and that usually happens in the summer," Pomeroy said. "And that hasn't really happened this year. We have restarted the school year so many times, midstream with classes going on, while people are running schools and teaching classes at the same time. It's exhausting."
He said that despite the frustration, Medford teachers are still doing what they can to help the school year run smoothly.
"I know this about Medford teachers, they have been resilient and adapt," Pomeroy said. "And they have taken whatever is thrown at them and always done the best thing for kids through it all."
Dr. Bret Champion is the Superintendent of the MSD and he said that changes were made with the classroom set-up during spring break for when plans are finalized.
"Because folks were out for spring break, our amazing facilities crew got all that furniture back. It's not that we're making the change tomorrow," Dr. Champion said. "But we want to be able to make the change and not have the furniture be a holdup."
Pomeroy and Dr. Champion both said one of the challenges will be figuring out schedules for students to go to lunch, because six feet of social distancing is still required while eating.
"Figuring out how those schedules will work is part of the puzzle we'll need to solve as we move toward getting all of our students back," Dr. Champion said.
He also said a reopening task force committee for the MSD will be meeting this week to go over the best ideas to move forward in this process.
The Medford Online Academy will still be an option for families who are not yet comfortable with sending their kids back to in-person learning.