ODE is collecting input, including from OSBA, and says it will release the final plan July 22, although like this school year it will continue to update.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green said that although school leaders still need to be mindful of COVID-19’s dangers, they also need to help students and families return to some sense of normalcy. He said school boards and their administrative teams are best positioned to respond to communities’ needs.
“Locally elected school boards are accountable for the safety of the students, staff and communities in their facilities,” Green said. “The guidance needs to continue to strike a balance between safety and practicality, and school boards have been at the forefront of those discussions throughout this pandemic.”
OSBA staff and representatives, including members of the Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus, are scheduled to meet Thursday, June 3, with ODE Director Colt Gill and staff. ODE is especially concerned about addressing COVID-19’s disproportionate impacts.
The draft puts emphasis on equity and meeting students’ social and emotional needs. Districts would not be able to limit students’ classroom or extracurricular activities based solely on their performance or attendance during the pandemic.
Among the big shifts in discussion is reducing the health and safety requirements while increasing local control. The draft says the guidance will align with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but with increases in local decision-making.
ODE is still considering face covering rules and vaccination rates will be important, a spokesperson said. Students and teachers should keep 3 feet of distance “to the degree possible” but that should not prevent in-person instruction, the draft says.
Schools would not be required to offer remote instruction. If schools choose to offer an online option, at least 50% of daily instruction would have to be in real time by a licensed teacher. ODE plans to set new quality standards for remote instruction.
Schools would also return to pre-pandemic rules for attendance and instruction time.