Message from Dr. Champion
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).
- 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.
- We will be enhancing safety measures by implementing the following:
- Holding all parent/teacher conferences via Zoom or the phone.
- Eliminate the centralized sign in/sign out process for staff and utilizing new screening questions upon entry.
- Establishing a new, anonymous COVID-19 safety reporting system.
- Enhancing our school-level safety committees.
- 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.
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!
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.
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.