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Medford teachers faced with many unknowns as MSD works to construct fall plan

MSD teachers are responding and preparing after the district released a framework for beginning school this fall.

Posted: Jul 14, 2020 4:47 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2020 10:18 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. – Medford School District (MSD) has issued a framework for what school could look like this fall.

Today, NewsWatch 12 met with Jessica Fitzsimmons, a 4th grade teacher and Medford Education Association Organizing Chair, to get an idea of how teachers are reacting and preparing for this upcoming fall.

“Teachers, in general, I think their opinions are as varied as the communities; some are ready to go back with no changes and some are terrified,” said Fitzsimmons, “I think both of those are valid.”

Although the framework that was issued by MSD on July 13, lays down the basics of the districts plan for returning to school, district Superintendent, Dr. Brett Champion says there will be changes.

In an interview with NewsWatch 12’s Brian Morton, Champion makes the fluidity of the situation clear, “I remind the community that this is our best thinking today, July 13, 2020, we know the situation will continue to evolve and this plan and the framework will continue to evolve as well.”

Under MSD’s current framework for the fall, all elementary schools will reopen with children in classrooms 5 days a week. Social distancing measures will be in place and classes will be divided into smaller groups.

The discussion surrounding younger students has been one of the most common questions and debates as the state and nation looks at returning to school. Restrictions that are manageable and possible with older children, simply aren’t realistic with young children.

“K-2 teachers are really nervous,” said Fitzsimmons, “How do you keep six-year-olds 6 ft. away from each other all day, keeping them in a desk or at a desk?”

Some teachers and substitute teachers aren’t planning on returning to the classroom.

“There are some teachers that, for personal health reasons or because they have people at home, they’re concerned, they’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do,” said Fitzsimmons.

Right now, the district is working to identify what students and teachers will be moving completely online.

According to Dr. Champion, MSD will be sending out more information about Medford’s online school option to parents in the coming week.

“Overall, what I feel like is people are scared,” said Fitzsimmons, “I’m nervous. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want my colleagues to get sick. I don’t want my students to get sick and nobody wants that.”

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