Update Letter from North Wasco County School District

July 16th, 2020

Dear Parents and Guardians of North Wasco County Students,

This is an update on where our school district is in the planning process for the 2020-21 school year.  First, thank you to the many families that responded to the parent surveys sent out last month.  Your responses have provided valuable input into the planning process.  

As you may know, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), in collaboration with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released Ready Schools, Safe Learners, Guidance for School Year 2020-21 in mid-June.  This guidance was updated on June 30th, and is scheduled to be updated again in mid-July and early August.  Since receiving the first guidance, preparations and planning have been underway to digest the guidance, analyze parent surveys, evaluate our school spaces and create numerous protocols and proactive measures to address safety for students and staff as we plan for the upcoming school year. 

There are many factors to consider when planning for the 2020-21 school year.  With safety at the forefront, a large part of the planning involves updating the district’s Communicable Disease Management Plan, to ensure procedures are in place for everyone’s safety.  This work follows the ODE and OHA guidance and is being done in collaboration with our local emergency services personnel, our local ESD (Columbia Gorge Education Service District), as well as our local health department. 

We have analyzed the guidance and assessed the instructional space in all of our facilities. (The requirement is no more than one person per 35 square feet of space, and at least 6 feet of distance between individuals to allow for safe social distancing.) This information, along with recommendations for safely transporting students, informs the decision for which instructional model we will be using this school year. It will be vital that we are able to respond to the virus and its impact within our community, and shift instructional models fairly quickly.  At this time, we are looking at a hybrid instructional model for this year, which would involve students receiving instruction on-site and via distance learning during each week.  Again, we are awaiting the updates to ODE’s guidance and will continue to closely monitor the impact on the virus within our community before plans are finalized.

Each building administrator has formed a planning team to assist with planning for their building and the 2020-21 school year.  This will be detailed in each school’s Operational Blueprint for School Reentry 2020-21.  Each building blueprint is currently in draft form as we wait for the updated guidance from ODE and OHA.  Adjustments will be made and the plans will be shared with staff, parents, the local health department and our school board.  This will be done in late July and early August. 

Our primary focus is on the safety of students and staff while providing high quality education for our students.  As we move forward we will continue to plan for multiple possibilities, while being ready to shift in response to the virus’ transmission and travel within our community and state. 

We will send another letter in late July or early August with information about the school blueprints or plans for the 2020-21 school year.  Until then, I leave you with a few reminders from the Oregon Health Authority to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19. 

Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds and if you can’t use soap and water use hand sanitizer with 50-95% alcohol content. 

Cover coughs and sneezes with elbow or tissue, and wash hands right away.

Do not touch your face.

Stay at least six feet away from people you don’t live with. 

Wear a cloth, paper or disposable face covering when you go out or can’t maintain social distancing.

Please take care, be safe and stay vigilant.

Sincerely,

Theresa Peters

Interim Superintendent

North Wasco County School District

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