The reopening of local schools and how its going to look
The power of choosing whether or not to re-open schools has passed from the state to Oregon’s individual school boards, not without controversy.
Roseburg’s k-12 school board just reversed their decisions to allow students to go back to school because county numbers exceeded the acceptable threshold for safety. “Case rates must be below 200 per 100,000 people in order to begin the return of secondary students to in-person/hybrid learning,” according to the Roseburg Public Schools website.
Gov. Kate Brown had earlier stated that schools would be allowed to start going back to in-person learning Jan. 1. Some Douglas county schools have already had students going back to school on modified or hybrid schedules while others are still all online.
Parents and students are concerned about how learning will be affected and are asking whether case numbers might skyrocket. Other families are frightened about whether or not their children have to go back to school with worries about the safety of children in large groups.
The CDC is urging that schools follow specific reopening strategies in order to keep a clean, healthy learning environment.
- Consistent and correct use of masks
- Social distancing to the extent possible
- Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
- Cleaning and disinfection
- Contact tracing in collaboration with local health department.
These five strategies are intended to help maintain the school system and a healthy community. On top of these basic guidelines the CDC also recommended that schools should collaborate with state and local health officials. The CDC recognizes every school and community is different, so districts should keep in contact with their local public health organizations.
For college the regulations are a bit different than for k-12. Oregons Higher Education Coordinating Commission in a press release stated “Each college and university will have the flexibility to determine how and when students return, but must meet, at a minimum, the public health requirements contained in this document. College and university determinations about the resumption of on-site operations must be informed by local circumstances and regional readiness, in consultation with their Local Public Health Authority.”
Those health requirements included the following:
- Implementing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 within buildings and the campus setting, such as appropriate cleaning and disinfecting procedures; screening, monitoring, and testing for illness among symptomatic students, staff, and faculty; and use of face coverings.
- Permitting remote instruction/telework or other reasonable accommodations for students and employees who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Recommending the use of face coverings for all students, staff, and faculty, in accordance with local public health, OHA, and CDC guidelines.
- Requiring face coverings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Working with their local public health authority (LPHA) to ensure they are able to effectively respond to and control outbreaks through sharing of information when appropriate.
Even with all the requirements, students and families are experiencing many mixed feelings about school.
“Online college is so much harder to understand. If it were in person, I’d still be in college,” a former UCC said who wanted to remain anonymous.
Worrying about children is hard, even when it’s a parent’s only priority. For a college student adding home schooling for their children on top of the parent’s stress load is even more difficult. Jennifer Williams, a UCC student who also has children in school, said, “As a college student, online learning has been amazing and I hope that option is always available post-pandemic. But online for children is not ideal.”
Another student who works full time said, “Without the commute or potential increase of time on campus, it makes it easier to have a school time and a work time. As a worker, having a hybrid schedule would be the way to go moving forward because you could get help for more difficult classes but leave the easier classes online.”
A new UCC student said, “Going to school online isn’t bad although it does suck not being able to do in-person classes because we can’t get the proper help if we need it. If we do go back to school in person, it would help a lot of people who are struggling to get through college on their own.”
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