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Current Learning Model and Future Plans

Dec. 31, 2020

Greetings, MSD Families!

I hope this email finds you well and that you’ve enjoyed the holidays. 

As you know, on Dec. 23, Governor Brown issued this statement outlining a goal of returning more Oregon students (prioritizing our youngest learners) to in-person instruction by mid-February. While decisions to resume in-person instruction can now be made locally, we cannot make these decisions alone. In addition to working with our local public health department and following all required health and safety protocols, we are committed to honoring all voices in our community, including yours, our students and staff.  

SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED. Families please take a few minutes to fill out this survey by January 11 to help inform our next steps. Staff please fill out this survey here.

The following resources may be helpful to review prior to filling out the survey: 

We will be convening a task force that includes teachers, staff, parents, students, and administrators to help determine how and when to increase in-person instruction safely. We will also meet with Jackson County Public Health as we await new health and safety guidance from the Oregon Department of Education that is expected in mid-January. We hope to announce plans at the end of January for a target transition of February. 

We know this year has been incredibly challenging for you and your student(s). Please know we will move through this work with urgency, but also with diligence and a focus on safety and wellness for all. 

Happy New Year!

Gratefully, 

Bret Champion
Superintendent

 


Dec. 23, 2020

Greetings, MSD Families!

As has been the case throughout 2020, big news comes at unexpected times! So here we are, just days before Christmas, when Governor Brown shared this announcement.  

Here’s the bottom line: COVID health metrics for schools are moving from being mandatory to being advisory, and the Governor is prioritizing a return to in-person instruction, with a focus on our youngest learners, by February 15.  She also is directing rapid onsite testing for schools, as well as a prioritization of the COVID vaccine for school staff. 

We know and appreciate that this will bring mixed emotions for many of you.  As we have throughout this pandemic, we will move forward by leaning on our core values of simplicity, grace, equity, and transparency.  We also continue to not panic!  We are putting together a reopening task force (of staff, parents, and students) to look at how to expand in-person instruction safety by mid-February, and will be listening to all voices as we move forward.

And of course, we will continue to work with Jackson County Public Health and follow the guidance of the Oregon Health Authority with every decision we make.

Nothing is shifting overnight. January 4 will be the school day you were expecting on December 18.  Please enjoy your holiday with the knowledge that we are prioritizing your students' education while focusing on the health and wellness of all.

Gratefully, 


Bret Champion
Superintendent

 




Dec. 10, 2020

Greetings, MSD Families!

You may have already heard from your school, but we are excited to share that based on your feedback, we are making some adjustments to how we do school, both virtually and in limited in-person instruction (LIPI). 

Back in October, thousands of you shared your struggles and successes with comprehensive distance learning. We studied your feedback and determined our top priorities for improvement were: 

  • Providing more opportunities for students to connect with staff and each other
  • Reducing screen time 
  • Streamlining schedules 

We are excited to let you know we are making some changes to school in this current environment based on these priorities. 

Elementary Schools

Elementary families will notice reduced screen time for students on Wednesdays and more opportunities for students to focus on project based learning! There will be a common lunch break for elementary students for one hour at some point between 11-12:30PM. There will also be more chances for parents and students to connect one-on-one with their teachers

Middle Schools

Our middle schools have already communicated their new schedules, which also have increased opportunities for connecting with and getting extra help from teachers

High Schools

And our high schools have identified Wednesdays as a day for connection, less screen time, and more opportunities for limited in-person instruction! We love seeing our students having fun and learning at school and doing so with all of our safety provisions in place. 

We continue to follow the guidance from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE)/Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in order to provide the most meaningful education to students while prioritizing the health and wellness of our students, staff, and community. While ODE is allowing districts to increase the number of students allowed to receive limited in-person instruction, our district is following a request from Jackson County Public Health not to go beyond the caps previously set by the state. We know our students are more successful when they are in buildings with our outstanding teachers, so we must work together to get “get to green” (get COVID cases down in Jackson County), so we can safely return to large-scale, in-person instruction. 

Finally, we want to share the outcome of the Medford School Board’s resolution to urge Governor Brown to prioritize a return to in-person instruction. Here is a response we received from ODE this week. We want to thank our Board for their continued public service on behalf of our students. We would also like to share this response from our teacher’s union, the Medford Education Association (MEA). 

If you have any questions about your school’s schedule, please contact your school directly. 

As we approach the holidays, please know we are so very grateful for you and your students. We are all looking forward to 2021!

Gratefully, 

Bret Champion

Superintendent


November 18th, 2020

Greetings, Medford School District Families, 

Oregon’s statewide “freeze” takes effect today and will continue until at least Wednesday, December 2. Some of you may be wondering what this means for the Medford School District and your student(s). 

Due to low transmission rates in schools, Governor Brown and the Oregon Health Authority have excluded K-12 education from the “freeze.” While we have had cases in the district, we have not seen a single outbreak (two cases or more in a cohort, excluding family) in our schools. We appreciate the support from our partners at Jackson County Public Health who drafted this letter recognizing the absence of COVID spread in our schools and supporting our limited in-person instruction. 

We recognize COVID cases in Jackson County are on the rise and we continue to do our part to stop the spread and “get to green.” In order to maintain our focus on students while protecting the health and wellness of students, staff, and community, we are making a few changes to our instructional and operational models while in “the freeze” and for as long as Jackson County is “in the red” (case rates more than 200 per 100k over a two-week period).  

  1. We will be continuing to offer limited in-person instruction (LIPI), but lowering the number of students to a cap of 150 per school for elementary; 200 per school for middle school; and 350 per school for high school. 
  2. We will be enhancing safety measures by implementing the following: 
    1. Holding all parent/teacher conferences via Zoom or the phone. 
    2. Eliminate the centralized sign in/sign out process for staff and utilizing new screening questions upon entry. 
    3. Establishing a new, anonymous COVID-19 safety reporting system. 
    4. Enhancing our school-level safety committees. 
    5. Per OSAA’s recent update on K-12 athletics and activities. indoor sports are prohibited throughout the “freeze,” including indoor conditioning, training and competitions. 

Lastly, the state of Oregon issued this travel advisory on November 13 asking those arriving in Oregon from out of state to practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. We encourage you to follow these requirements. If your student is involved in limited in-person instruction, after school activities, or athletics, and if you travel out of state, please let your teacher or principal know.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work for a high quality education, in an environment that prioritizes the health and wellness of our students, staff, and community.  

Gratefully, 

Bret Champion

Superintendent


Nov. 13, 2020

Greetings, MSD Families, 

Another Friday, another update from the Governor to share. The State of Oregon will be put on at least a “two-week freeze” starting next Wednesday (Nov. 18)  due to rising COVID cases. For more details, see the Governor’s announcement, here

The Governor and ODE were clear in saying this “freeze” does not impact K-12 schools, citing the strict safety protocols schools follow.  Those protocols not only reduce the risk of COVID transmission in schools, but help mitigate spread in communities by identifying and isolating cases.  We know, for example, that we have not encountered spread in our schools, even from the cases brought to our schools.  

Because the “freeze” does not take effect until Wednesday, we will maintain previously shared schedules for Monday and Tuesday to allow us to study the new guidance and determine next steps. Monday will continue as planned with limited in-person instruction and activities. (Of course, we will continue to monitor capacity to ensure we have adequate staff (and student) levels. Any school level changes will be communicated ASAP.) 

We continue to prioritize the health and wellness of our students, staff, and community by adhering to state guidance of mandatory face coverings and physical distancing. If you are sick, please do not attend school. 

The more we can work together to “get to green,” the sooner we can return to full-scale in person instruction.  All of us eagerly await that day!

Gratefully, 

Bret Champion
Superintendent 


Nov. 10, 2020

Greetings, MSD Families!

As you know, our case counts continue to rise and we do not meet the metrics for large scale, districtwide in-person instruction. Last week, the numbers led Governor Brown to include Jackson County in the five counties placed on a “pause” due to COVID numbers.  This week, we received clarification from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) with next steps for schools. The complete update is attached, and put simply, the Governor’s Office, ODE, and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) informed us that the “pause” does NOT affect schools, including our ability to bring in students for limited in-person instruction or Limited In-person Instruction (LIPI). 

Because of our rising case rates in Jackson County and our desire to “Get to Green,” we will continue to offer LIPI, but will not expand above the original cap issued by ODE (250 per building, 500 at high schools with multiple buildings). Please know that we continue to work with Jackson County Public Health (JCPH) to ensure we are following all safety protocols and are able to quickly identify staff and students who have been exposed to or are confirmed to have COVID-19 and remove them and any “close contacts” from the school community. We help JCPH daily with contact tracing efforts and to mitigate COVID-19 spread in our community. In fact, schools are strong in identifying people with symptoms and connecting them with medical professionals, helping slow the spread in the community.  We have always followed the guidance of our local and state health authorities. This will continue. 

Our goal hasn’t changed: to provide a high quality education for students while maintaining the safety and wellness of staff, students, and the community.  Thank you for your continued partnership in the education of your children.

Thank you, 

Bret Champion

Superintendent

P.S. Given the “pause,” we will be updating the 6/3 Rhythm later this month. 


Nov. 6, 2020

Greetings, Medford School District Families, 

Today, the Governor announced Jackson County is one of five counties in the state that will be put on a two-week “pause” starting Wednesday, November 11, due to rising COVID-19 cases.  Read about the new limitations in the Governor’s press release here

Remarkably, during the press conference (and in the subsequent press release), there was no mention of how (or if) this applies to schools. We know this raises questions about the limited in-person instruction, after school activities, and athletics we are currently offering in compliance with state guidance. We have reached out to the Oregon Department of Education for clarification, and will announce any changes by Monday evening.  For now, we will continue with school activities as planned

We know the last thing anyone wants is more uncertainty, and we hate adding to that.  Please know that we remain committed to our goal, to provide a high quality education for ALL students, while prioritizing the health and wellness of our students, our staff, and our community.  

Thank you, 

Bret Champion
Superintendent