Update on hybrid learning from the Beaverton School District
The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) announced some changes that impact our ability to bring back students for in-person instruction.
What did ODE change?
The State has changed the advisory health metrics. Under the previous health metrics, positive COVID-19 cases in Washington and Multnomah Counties had to drop below 100 per 100,000 residents (during the previous two-week period) to begin in-person instruction. Now, ODE will use new advisory metrics, based on Harvard Global Health Institute guidelines:
- If over 350 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): No in-person instruction
- If 200 – 350 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): Focus on elementary in-person instruction
- If 50 – 199 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): Expand in-person instruction beyond elementary
- If under 50 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): All in-person instruction
As of this writing, the current case count in Washington and Multnomah Counties is 340 and 311, respectively.
What did ODE not change?
- ODE did NOT change the mandatory social distancing requirement as described in the Ready School Safe Learners guidance. That means that each student still must have a “space bubble” of 35 square feet.
- ODE did NOT change the mandatory cohort requirement. That means that a student may not have contact with more than 100 people per week. This requirement is one of our biggest barriers to resuming in-person instruction for our middle and high school students.
What else do we know?
- The Governor has announced that educators will begin to receive the vaccine, starting on January 25. The District hopes to roll out those vaccines to our 6,000 employees as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Addressing some misconceptions
- Understandably, some parents are frustrated when they see other school districts around the country open to full in-person instruction when BSD is not. It’s important to recognize that Oregon has more stringent mandatory safety protocols in place than do other states. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
- Some parents also are frustrated to see other school districts in Oregon announcing their intentions to reopen in some form. Please realize that smaller districts with smaller student populations don’t have the same challenges as districts as large as BSD. Again, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
- One issue that has been underreported centers on liability. If a school district elects to begin in-person instruction without meeting the advisory health metrics, the district will no longer have the liability protection that was recently extended by the Oregon Legislature. If and when anyone were to become sick (or worse) from COVID-19, a district could face expensive lawsuits. Most districts, including ours, cannot afford to take on that level of risk. Any legal settlements would directly impact future funding for students.
We hope to have more information and timelines for you in the coming days. Thank you for your continued support.