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KLAMATH COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT RELEASES PLANS FOR REOPENING IN THE FALL

Hybrid learning model balances KCSD classroom instruction with distance learning; remote options available

Students in the Klamath County School District likely will be returning to class this fall under a hybrid-learning model that balances in-person classroom instruction with distance learning.

“Based on parent feedback, our goal is to maximize face-to-face learning with as much student-teacher contact as possible while safely reopening schools,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District.

Szymoniak said the district’s plan gives the schools flexibility to fully reopen once they can meet all state guidelines and determine their distance-learning program is successful for every student.

“We know that guidance and state mandates can change overnight, and we want our students to be set up for success if we are ordered to provide remote learning fulltime,” he said.

Schools statewide have been closed since March 16 to limit the spread of COVID-19. Districts are working on plans to safely reopen this fall.

The Klamath County School District created its reopening plan in accordance with the following priorities: 1) the safety of students and staff; 2) quality instruction for all students; and 3) avoiding a COVID-related shutdown. It follows current Oregon Department of Education Ready Schools, Safe Learners Guidance that provides clear health and safety reopening protocols as well as social distancing mandates that limit the number of students school districts can accommodate in classrooms and on their buses.

Letters about the plan were mailed to families this week. The 2020-21 school year for students is scheduled to begin Aug. 31.

In addition to hybrid-instruction, the school district’s plan includes online and distance learning programs for students who are not able to, or would prefer not to, return to a school campus.

“Our plans to reopen schools this fall set students up for success academically, emotionally, and socially,” Szymoniak said.

Under what the district is calling its A-B hybrid plan, students will be with their teacher in the classroom two days a week and participate in distance learning the other three days. Each school will divide students into two groups – A and B. Within those groups, students will remain in small cohorts throughout the day. The cohort attends classes and other activities together, enabling schools to limit and track day-to-day intermingling.

For three days a week, each group will continue learning remotely. The district will provide training to students and their parents in its online and distance platforms. Ongoing tech and academic support also will be available. Students will receive standard letter grades and credits for their classes.

The district also has full-distance learning options. The district’s Great Basin Academy includes a long-standing, accredited virtual school for 7th-12th graders and a homeschool for K-8. Under development is a comprehensive distance learning program that will allow students to take remote classes and remain enrolled in their neighborhood school.

Community support for families will be vital during this time, Szymoniak said.

“We are encouraging parents to form cooperative groups of family and friends who can collaborate to provide supervision, activities, and homework assistance during days students are not in school,” he said.

Klamath County School District schools will host forums in late July and early August so parents can ask questions, provide input, and learn about school cleaning and safety protocols. Updates and the dates and times for parent forums will be posted on school websites.

Over the next few weeks, each school in the district is creating an Operational Blueprint for Reentry that specifically addresses health protocols, equity, instruction, family and community engagement, response to outbreak, mental, social and emotional health, and staffing and personnel. The district will be sharing and asking for input on schools’ reentry plans.

“We need to continue to work together to navigate the state’s evolving efforts to mitigate COVID-19,” Szymoniak said, thanking parents and community members for their ongoing support.

A FAQ link and any updates will be posted on the district’s website at www.kcsd.k12.or.us. The public can ask questions or provide input via email at kcsd_covid19@kcsd.k12.or.us.Parents who want to discuss their student’s options for this fall are encouraged to call Tia Powell at the District Office at 541-851-8740.

Here is a look at KCSD’s reopening plans and options:

  • Blended/Hybrid Learning: A balance of face-to-face classroom instruction and remote learning.
    • Students at each school will be assigned to one of two groups. Each group attends school two days a week, receiving face-to-face instruction with classroom teachers. Students will remain in small cohorts of about 10-20 students throughout the day. The cohort attends classes and other activities together, enabling schools to limit and track day-to-day intermingling.
    • Each group participates in online and distance learning three days a week, using synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods.
    • Parents and students will receive training on the school’s online learning platform.
    • The district will provide ongoing distance learning and tech support to students and parents.
    • Schools will follow strict cleaning and hygiene protocols.
  • Full Distance Learning: Students who are not able to, or would prefer not to, return to a school campus can stay connected to their schools and continue their education through our quality online and distance learning programs.
  • Great Basin Academy: Under our current virtual and homeschool programs, students are enrolled in the Klamath County School District and have access to nutritional and special services, extracurricular activities, and specialized academic programs in our schools.
    • Great Basin Virtual Academy: This online school for 7th– through 12th-graders is a long-standing, accredited program with certified teachers. Students will have access to support from KCSD teachers.
    • Great Basin Homeschool: The district’s Great Basin Homeschool Center provides a full academic curriculum for K-8th graders. Parents are responsible for their student’s academic progress.

To find out more about these options, call Great Basin Academy at 541-883-6699.

  • Comprehensive Distance Learning: The district is working to develop a districtwide online school with certified district teachers delivering instruction. Participating students would remain enrolled in their neighborhood school. The program is under development and more information will be available in August.

Questions and Answers:

Will distance learning under the hybrid plan be different from what students experienced this spring?

Yes! While we are proud of what our educators and students accomplished this spring, we know online and distance learning during the unexpected emergency school closures was a challenge for many families. KCSD educators and staff have trained in the latest classroom teaching methods and online distance learning platforms with one goal — to ensure your students have what they need to be successful. Parents also will receive training. We are working this summer to ensure high-quality curriculum across all grade levels. Teachers will provide ongoing feedback to students and grading of schoolwork will be completed remotely.

Does the district’s reopening plan address childcare for the days students are learning at home?

The district does not have the staff or facilities to provide childcare during distance learning days. We are encouraging parents to form cooperative groups of family and friends who can collaborate to provide supervision, activities, and homework assistance during days student are not in school.

What about sports and extracurricular activities?

We know academic, athletic, and other types of school-sponsored activities are invaluable to our students. The OSAA (Oregon Schools Activities Association) is scheduled to meet in late July to discuss guidance for fall athletics and activities. We hope to have more information at that time.

Will schools continue to offer transportation?

Absolutely. We are still working out the details, but safety protocols will be in place to protect students and staff. In August, your school will be reaching out to you to determine what your transportation needs are for fall.

Will the district still provide nutritional services and meals for students?

Yes! We are proud of our meal service and the success of our ongoing grab-and-go meal delivery program. All of our schools now qualify under the Community Eligibility Provision, which means EVERY student enrolled in the Klamath County School District will receive free meals. During hybrid learning, our grab-and-go meals (three breakfasts and three lunches) will be provided to students to take home on the second day of in-person classes.

Will students receive letter grades?

Unless Oregon Department of Education guidance changes, student work will be turned in and graded, and students will earn standard letter grades for their classes.

Will staff and students be required to wear masks or face coverings at school?

We will follow guidance from the Oregon Department of Education. Currently, guidelines call for most staff members to wear face coverings or face shields. ODE encourages junior high and high school students to wear face coverings, but it is not a requirement at this time.

I am thinking about enrolling my child in one of the online programs advertised on television and social media sites. Does KCSD have a similar program? Are there advantages to staying with the district?

Yes, and yes! The Klamath County School District offers online and distance learning programs as well as a homeschool option. And, yes, there are definite advantages to remaining enrolled with your local school district. Advantages include:

  • Students are connected to local teachers and can access face-to-face support as needed.
  • Students can participate in advanced classes, dual credit options, and specialized programs offered in KCSD schools.
  • Students have access to special academic programs and other programs such as theater, band, choir, and art offered in our schools.
  • All students enrolled in the district receive free meals through our nutritional services program.
  • Students can participate in sports and extracurricular activities at their brick-and-mortar school.
  • State student funding stays with the Klamath County School District, enhancing and supporting property tax funding.

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