NYSSA — With new guidance from the state coming down last week regarding reopening schools amidst the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Nyssa School District announced that it will be hoping to see students returning to classrooms early in the 2021 calendar year.
On July 28, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a new metrics-based approach to reopening schools statewide. The metrics, which are as follows, mean it is unlikely that Malheur County students will be in their classrooms this fall.
• County case rate: Less than or equal to 10 cases per 100,000 population in the preceding seven days.
• County test positivity: Less than or equal to 5% in the preceding seven days.
• State test positivity: Less than or equal to 5% in the preceding seven days.
The new restrictions also came with an exemption for students between kindergarten and third grade, remote and rural small schools, and students who require needed support (students with disabilities, career and technical education classes).
• COVID-19 is not actively spreading among the school community.
• The case rate in the county is less than or equal to 30 cases per per 100,000 population in the preceding 14 days.
• The test positive rate in the county is less than or equal to 5% in the preceding 14 days.
• Schools fully comply with sections 1-3 of the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance.
On-site learning update near October
On Monday afternoon, Nyssa School District Superintendent Darren Johnson sent a letter out to parents stating that the district is intending to open the year with distance learning and will look for a return to classes for the winter term.
“We will continue to monitor Malheur county’s metrics and will announce on or before October 16th whether or not we can return to on-site learning,” the release states. “If we can return, students could possibly return to in-person or hybrid learning for the second semester, which begins in January 2021.”
Johnson added that the school administration will be asking the Board of Directors to vote on moving the start of the 2020-21 school year back to Aug. 26. Many schools, including Ontario School District, have already delayed their school year by a week to allow teachers and administrators more time to get ready for distance learning.
The August monthly meeting for the Nyssa School District Board of Directors will be on Monday at 7 p.m.
The letter from Johnson also adds a little bit of information on what “Comprehensive Distance Learning” would look like in the fall term:
• Nyssa School District teachers will teach courses each day with graded assignment and course grades. Progress will be monitored and feedback provided.
• Daily instruction from the teacher (live or recorded) will keep students strongly connected to teachers and classmates.
• Students will also have opportunities to receive individual support from their teachers and instructional assistants as needed.
• Clarity will be provided around attendance and participation.
• Greater family engagement and partnership.
Nyssa School District also has an option for students to be in a full-time online program, which would be for those seeking long-term online instruction and would not return to class if Malheur County does meet the state metrics for reopening schools.
Currently the full-time online option is for middle school and high school-aged students, but Johnson said they are looking for options for elementary students, as well.