This year, many schools have reported high numbers of failing grades among students frustrated by virtual education.
Canby High School is sending out more letters of concern this year than in the past, Principal Greg Dinse said. He said traditionally high-achieving students have mostly done well in distance learning and students who typically struggle have required extra effort. He said the students in the middle have been the most affected by distance learning.
“Under the best of times, they are marginally connected to school, and these have not been the best of times,” he said.
Canby will start its third trimester after spring break with a hybrid model, and Dinse hopes the in-person instruction will help establish some of those personal relationships that are key to motivating students. He said some students struggle with the self-discipline to get all their work done virtually.
The new guidance encourages schools to prioritize on-site learning for seniors, for graduation and for next steps.
Dinse said the district is setting up interventions to help seniors, including ones who have leftover work from last school year.
After Gov. Kate Brown closed schools last year, seniors who were on track to graduate in March 2020 were given their diplomas. School leaders turned much of their attention to helping along underclassmen who had already started slipping away in the early days of distance learning.
New federal standards will make it easier to have more students in classrooms. On Friday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its physical distancing guidelines for classrooms. In most cases, data show students are safe with 3 feet of space between desks and masks on, it said.
ODE and the Oregon Health Authority will update the “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” guidance “quickly,” Brown said Friday. Many Oregon schools don’t have enough space to have all students on campus every day with the previous standard of 6 feet between desks.
The new graduation guidance is similar to last year’s. Oregon high school students must earn 24 credits to graduate, among the highest requirements in the country and leaving little room for lost classes.