The Oregon Department of Education released new reopening metrics last week, easing districts’ ability to return to in-person classes. But there aren’t a lot of changes for families in Lane County.
Under the new reopening guidelines, all grades can start a hybrid model of in-person and online classes if counties have less than 50 cases for every 100,000 people, for a two week period. The county test positivity rate must also be under 5%.
Many Eugene 4J families have asked what this means for them. But 4J Chief of Staff Kerry Delf said it may be a while.
"What does this mean for us in Eugene? Will this be changing something next week or the week after? And the answer is no,” said Delf.
“We do not meet the requirements to be reopening our school either in a hybrid model or entirely in-person. Either for the youngest grades or all grades K-12. Our coronavirus rates are still significantly high to meet the minimum standards."
But if cases are low enough and safety protocols are in place, 4J schools may be able to start hybrid learning after the winter break.
Although most 4J students won’t be able to return to in-person learning under the new state reopening metrics, there is some good news. Under the new guidelines, the district can now allow more students to access their internet hubs.
Delf said this is helpful for kids who have had connectivity issues when trying to learn remotely.
“There was a very tight restriction that we were struggling with in some cases where in a 1,500-student high school you must have had zero cases identified among any of the students or staff who are associated with the school,” said Delf. “Even if they had been nowhere near the school. And we had struggled in some cases to get to a point where there had been zero cases within the past 14 days. And that restriction has been lifted.”
4J staff said any transition to start a hybrid learning model will be announced at least three weeks in advance to the start date. In order for schools to reopen, the district encourages the community to wear face coverings and follow COVID-19 social distancing protocols.
This story has been updated with the proper reopening metrics.