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Internet Hubs Created for 4J Students, COVID-19 Cases Provide Barriers to Access

Elizabeth Gabriel


The Eugene 4J school district has created three hubs for students who have trouble accessing internet. But, the number of COVID-19 cases is providing an additional barrier.

The three schools with internet hubs will provide up to 10 students at each school with internet connectivity. But Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Charis McGaughy says due to COVID-19 protocols, they’ve only had two students attend so far.

“If you're in a school where there has been any positive case [within the past 14 days]—even if you have not been in the building, you've had no contact—you're not allowed to open the school and the students aren't allowed to participate,” said McGaughy.

McGaughy says there is a waiting list for more students to participate once their school is cleared with proper health and safety regulations. Administrators at individual schools are working to reduce those barriers in the meantime, by making different accommodations such as recording lessons. The district is working not to penalize students who are unable to engage in distance learning due to a lack of internet access.

McGaughy said the Transportation Department is working to provide students with transportation for students who need it, and the Nutrition Services Department is providing grab and go meals for students who need it.

Which is especially important as students prepare to take state standardized tests this school year. 

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Charis McGaughy says teams of teachers in each subject area and grade level have been identifying priority standards to help narrow down teachers' curriculum.

“In terms of curriculum, the synchronous time with students that teachers are teaching is much shorter than when we're in-person,” said McGaughy. “So we do have very condensed time. But we had content teams or teachers working this summer to identify what we're calling priority standards to help essentialize the curriculum, knowing that we were going to have to modify and condense the content of what was being taught this year.”

In order for schools to reopen for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, the community must see 30 or fewer positive cases per 100,000 people in Lane County, for three weeks in a row. For students in 4th-12th grade, there must be 10 or fewer positive cases per 100,000 people in Lane County, for three weeks in a row. This is in addition to metrics outlined by the county.

The Oregon Department of Education is currently reevaluated school reopening metrics.

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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