The Nestucca Valley School District Board of Directors approved hybrid learning to begin in schools beginning Tuesday, March 30. This is a result of achieving both variables the board of directors established to transition to the hybrid model: the county’s risk level has lowered from Extreme Risk to Lower Risk and by March 30, 90 percent of staff will have received both doses of the vaccine.
The school district held a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday, Feb. 17, to provide more information to students and parents about transitioning to the hybrid model and how distance learning will change.
Superintendent Misty Wharton said the school district is required to publicly post what the district’s hybrid model will look like to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) through ODE’s Operational Blueprint. The blueprint is broken up into different categories the district must address, such as public health protocols, facilities and school operations, and the district’s response to an outbreak. The blueprint is a one-stop place for parents to go for questions.
“We’ll be reviewing this and switching it from LIPI [limited in-person instruction] to hybrid,” Wharton said of the blueprint. “When that occurs, that will go to the health department, and once the health department approves it, we will then push it out to parents and post it on the website.”
The blueprint will then go to ODE and the board of directors.
“Early on, I think we were all on a bit of a manic mode because we knew so little about this,” Wharton said of the beginning of the pandemic. “When we broke March 13, 2020 for spring break early, we did that with the intent of thinking in two weeks we’d be back in the building.”
As of Feb. 5, 90 percent of school district staff have received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. The district had been hopeful to receive the first dose back in January but limited supply of the vaccine slowed allocations. Staff will receive the second dose March 5.
March 30 will be the first day of hybrid instruction. The hybrid model means part in-person instruction and part distance learning. Class cohorts will be set up. Cameras will be set up in the classrooms that will livestream for students when they are distance learning.
“We want to ensure the health of our community,” Wharton said. “We currently have three families who are experiencing COVID cases in their households.”
The hybrid model will be offered at Nestucca Valley Early Learning for preschool age, Nestucca Valley Elementary and Nestucca Junior Senior High School. K-6 will be at the existing elementary school and grades 7-12 will be at the high school.
“All three of our facilities meet the ventilation requirements or exceed,” Wharton said.
ODE states students who abstain from wearing a face covering, or students whose families determine the student will not wear a face covering for a values-based reason, should be provided access to distance learning. Wharton said everyone on school property, parents included, are asked to wear face masks, unless in their vehicle.
Options for the remainder of the school year at the preschool level at Nestucca Valley Early Learning Center are continued distance learning with Zoom options and packets or a hybrid model. Early Learning Program Director Diane Wilkinson said this is for students ages 3-5 only.
“Child care will be evaluated by our board of directors at a later date,” Wilkinson said. “Once the rosters are created for the preschool classrooms, then we’ll assign staff and determine what that hybrid model and daily schedule looks like.”
Wilkinson said the center will have a stable cohort model with students utilizing outside doors. Models considered with be Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday/Thursday cohorts or a.m. class, and distance learning p.m. Fridays will always be a no class day for staff and sanitization.
There will be daily health screenings at drop off and throughout the day, Wilkinson added. Drop off and pickup times will be established and will be inflexible. Orientation will be provided prior to reopening for every in-person family to ensure an understanding of protocols.
Nestucca Valley Elementary School Principal Chad Holloway said the distance learning/hybrid model would take place four days a week Monday through Thursday. Buses will arrive in a staggered manner beginning at 7:45 a.m. Buses will leave in a similar manner beginning at 2:45 p.m.
Desks will be spaced 6 feet apart, Holloway said. They will also be sanitized on a regular basis.
Grades K-2 will be staggered by grade level during recess. This will make it so there are not as many kids at the playground at one time. Grades 3-6 will be staggered by teachers.
Holloway said students will eat their lunch at their desks in their classrooms.
“We’re going to be using the same desk and the same equipment,” Holloway said.
Distance learning will mirror the hybrid schedule and instruction will be livestreamed from the classroom. Meetings will continue to be virtual.
“Our students are going to change classes at this level,” Nestucca Valley Junior Senior High School Principal Ken Richwine said. “They will be rotating to different teachers and different rooms.”
Richwine said they would have a longer passing period in between classes in order to sanitize. There will also be one-way traffic.
The school will be implementing a hybrid schedule with students split between in-person learning for two days and distance learning for two other days throughout the week. Breakfast will take place in the classroom during first period. Students will be able to move a little during lunch.