ODE promises crucial supplemental learning guidance this weekend
Friday, March 27, 2020
Guidance for schools’ supplemental learning efforts will be available this weekend, the Oregon Department of Education said Thursday. It also clarified that school staff do not have to return to school buildings Monday.
Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill sent an email to superintendents and principals that addresses some of the issues plaguing school leaders as they consider closed schools through April 28.
“These are unprecedented times, and Colt Gill is showing great leadership,” OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said. “We just have to get everybody on the same page.”
School districts around the state want to offer learning when this week’s spring break ends, but superintendents have been waiting on ODE guidance to finish their plans. Graduation requirements for seniors, a top priority for most districts, will have to wait.
The Pathways to Graduation guidance for students in grades 9-12 is still being vetted and ODE hopes to post it “in the coming days,” the email said. ODE did say it has received a federal waiver for summative assessment tests and it plans to suspend Oregon’s Essential Skills requirement.
Seaside Superintendent Sheila Roley said last week that it would not be much of a spring break for staff as they tried to ready home lessons for students.
“The most urgent thing, when spring break is over, how do we provide a functional high-quality instructional program?” she said.
The Supplemental Education and Learning Supports Guidance will be posted to the ODE COVID-19 webpage this weekend, the email said. ODE is assessing schools’ capacity to offer online learning.
Public online schools are in a complicated place where they can mostly operate as normal but life around them is no longer the same.
Public virtual charter schools can offer full lessons but they cannot enroll new students or withdraw students for absences, according to ODE. Their “supplemental learning” can be their regular offerings as long as they are following all aspects of the governor’s orders and take into account the pandemic’s demands on staff and students.
“It is almost business as usual, but schools have to be really mindful of where a student is within the health crisis,” said Kate Pattison, ODE charter school specialist.
ODE plans to offer more guidance for virtual schools next week.
Districts with online schools are leaning on those staff members to help with supplemental learning plans for all students.
Springfield Superintendent Todd Hamilton said it would be difficult to scale up the district’s small online school for 10,000 students, though.
Hamilton said earlier this week that Springfield has some learning opportunities ready but a more robust program is waiting on ODE’s guidance.
“The supplemental learning is really just a pause until April 28 or until we get more guidance,” he said.
The email also sought to clear up some confusion about Gov. Kate Brown’s executive orders. Her first closure order on March 12 said staff should return to school March 30. Executive order 20-08 replaced it, closing schools through April 28 and allowing school staff to work from home. Schools must continue to pay staff, and staff must assist with supplemental learning and provide emergency services support if needed.
The most recent executive order, the “stay home” order, does not change the requirements for schools and staff, but it could change how staff fulfill their duties with considerations for social distancing needs and work-from-home options.