July 30 Fall Schooling Through COVID Update

July 30th Fall Schooling Through COVID update highlights:
  • Distance Learning through first quarter - grades 4-12
  • New school start date: September 8
  • K-3 news next week

Dear Parents and Guardians,
As you may have heard, this week we received information from Governor Brown that will guide decisions about on-site learning for school districts throughout Oregon.  In partnership with the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority, the Governor released Community COVID-19 Metrics that indicate the highest level of disease circulation that allows for on-campus instruction.  Using models from countries where school sites have successfully opened for in-person schooling, Oregon, as well as other states, has published metrics that must be met at both the state and county level.
We encourage you to read the Ready Schools, Safe Learners: Community COVID-19 Metrics here ODE and OHA Community COVID-19 Metrics to understand more about these guidelines.
What are the criteria for opening campus?
Counties must meet two local criteria to allow students on campus.
  • Counties must have fewer than 10 active cases/100,000 population over 7 days for three consecutive weeks
  • Counties must have a test positive rate of 5% or less for three consecutive weeks
Additionally, the state of Oregon must have a test positive rate of 5% or less to start school on-site. 
What is happening in Jackson County?
Currently the State of Oregon test positive rate is too high at 5.1% but is trending down, while the Jackson County test positive rate is low enough at 3% but the case rate per 100,000 is too high at 24.4.  The Oregon Health Authority will be posting future data updates on their website.
  Oregon Test Positive Rate
Less than 5%
Jackson County Test Positive Rate
Less than 5%
Jackson County Case Rate Per 100,000
7/5/20 5.9% 1.5% 11.8
7/12/20 5.4% 2.8% 27.2
7/19/20 5.1% 3.0% 24.4
What does this mean for opening school in Ashland?
4th Grade and Above
Based on metric trends over the last three weeks, Ashland School District does not meet public health requirements for a safe return to campus at this time.  To allow time for teachers and parents to plan, we will start school in a Distance Learning off-site only model through the first quarter (9 weeks) of the school year.  Given information and trends in October, we will reconsider a hybrid option in the second quarter.
Kindergarten through 3rd Grade (K3) Exception
State metrics allow a local exception for students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade and students experiencing disabilities.  A district may provide on-campus services to students in grades K3 if the county case rate is 30 or less/100,000.  Currently, the Jackson County case rate is below 30/100,000 but is trending higher.
Ashland School District is monitoring local data closely.  We will make a decision next week about programs for students in grades K3 based on available data and trends.  K3 students will start the year with Distance Learning through September 18 with certainty. 
Will we be in a Distance Learning model all year?
While these metrics impact the start of the school year, we hope that our county’s numbers will improve over time, as community members follow recommendations that reduce community spread of the virus (social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene, and face coverings).
In order to be flexible, we will continue planning for a schedule and cohort model that will allow us to move into on-site learning when we are able to do so safely and within public health mandates.
What will my child’s school week and school day look like?
We are working on instruction schedules now.  Specific days and times will be available soon.
When will the school district blueprint be available? What will it address?
Oregon schools are required to produce an operational blueprint for re-entry.  We have received multiple updates on the blueprint requirements throughout summer and important revisions that must be addressed to incorporate a more robust Distance Learning model.  We anticipate that the ASD blueprint will be available to the public on or after August 11.  For more details on the Oregon Ready Schools, Safe Learners Guidance click here and for the Comprehensive Distance Learning Guidance click here.
Important changes to Distance Learning and the school calendar
Many of you have offered feedback on your experiences with Distance Learning last spring – thank you and we heard you!  One thing we learned from our experience in the spring is that we can do Distance Learning better! 
Distance Learning can provide a rich curricular experience, connection to teachers and peers, a balanced workload, and routines and structures that families can follow more easily. 
In order to provide teachers and staff with time for much needed professional development and preparation for improved Distance Learning, the school board voted Monday to approve changes to the 2020-21 school year calendar.  The new calendar will be available on the website soon.  The first day of school for ASD students has been moved to Tuesday, September 8. 
Staff will be learning a new online system, Canvas, as well as additional supplemental resources, to ensure accessible, engaging, and productive educational experiences.  We are excited to share the new offerings with you and students.  If you have not yet, we invite you to watch these two preview videos. While the videos show students using Canvas in classrooms, the real power of Canvas at this time is that it will enable effective remote teaching and learning in the Distance Learning model.

Mrs. Park's 1st Grade Class
Allen Independent School District & Canvas
Will parents and students have support?
We know that Distance Learning requires a high level of involvement from parents, guardians, families, and students.  We are working to make robust supports available as we take this journey together.  We’ll have more details in the coming weeks.
What if I don’t have Internet or a device for my student?
We are purchasing appropriate technology for students that do not have access to a device so that every student can participate in Distance Learning.
Thank you
I want to thank parents and guardians who have taken the time to write emails, offer ideas, and ask questions.  While I am not able to respond to each individually at this time, your ideas and concerns are closely considered as we all work together to shape the best possible experiences for your children in these challenging times.  We will continue to update you with details for your own planning as we move into the fall and throughout the school year.
Our hope was to start the year with the on-site hybrid experience for our students in 4th-12th grade that we spent June and July planning.  While that cannot happen, we appreciate these timely measurable indicators from the state to make decisions that will affect the overall health of our community.  Our focus now is on providing the best possible Distance Learning experience for all of our students and families and we look forward to a time when we can work in-person with students on campus at all grade levels. 
Thank you for your continued partnership during this time.

Samuel Bogdanove
Ashland Public Schools
Pronouns: He, Him, His
Katherine Holden
AMS Associate Principal/Schooling Through Covid Coordinator
Ashland Public Schools
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

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