Schools, closed since April, will welcome students again in the fall--it just won't look the way it used to. And just how different it will be, no one knows.
On Monday, Greater Albany Public Schools Superintendent Melissa Goff briefed the board on the latest developments surrounding the re-opening of schools in the state. The Oregon Department of Education has the final say on how schools in the state will operate and locally, schools will follow ODE and state requirements--not county rules.
"What we know is that what we know may change," Goff told the board of the fluid situation.
GAPS will be inviting community input regarding school openings but tentative plans, Goff said, may utilize a hybrid model--a combination of in-person and distance learning.
Students who received Chromebooks are being asked to keep them over the summer and, Goff said, GAPS is purchasing additional computers for the fall.
When students do return, it will likely be with masks and just how many students will be in a room or a bus is still undecided.
"We know that we don't have enough time in the day nor do we have enough buses to drive or routes to cover to have all students served every day with the current restrictions including the small number of students in a classroom, social distancing," Goff said.
Masks, will also pose a problem. Students with autism and other sensory issues may not be able to wear a mask during the school day.
"Just like we make modifications for special needs students in other ways, we'll be doing the same when school begins," Goff said.
And while the picture isn't quite in focus yet, ODE is expected to be releasing some guidance on the issue in the coming weeks. That guidance will still leave districts adjusting to a new normal.
School board member Pat Eastman asked what the drop dead date was for the district to release a plan for the fall to parents. The answer? There's isn't one.
"My crystal ball is really foggy but I will say the drop dead date is going to be a rolling one," Goff said. "We'll be keeping the community updated on where we are in the process."
GAPS will be posting information in the coming weeks on how the community can comment on the plans to re-open the school district in the fall.
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