Just a few days after Canby School District Superintendent Trip Goodall sent a message to families advising them what Canby schools would look like amid the COVID closures, the Oregon Department of Education, without warning, sent new guidance to Goodall and the state’s other superintendents that changed everything.
The new guidance essentially requires schools to resume classes by mid-April, albeit at a distance. ODE called for the implementation of “Distance Learning for All,” a robust new teaching and learning platform that would most likely use not just online education, but also paper assignments sent through the mail and phone or video calls.
ODE has instructed school districts to launch their distance learning models by April 13. Goodall said Canby schools are developing a plan: figuring out logistics, distributing technology and “determining how to best deliver instruction outside of the classroom.”
“We know you have a lot of questions,” Goodall said in an April 3 letter to families. “We are working to get answers while we simultaneously build a new teaching and learning format. The guidance for all districts has been clear that new learning begins on April 13.”
As had been previously planned, district staff spent the past week reconnecting with their approximately 5,000 students and their families by phone. Goodall says these contacts were to answer questions and assess needs, but that wasn’t the main reason.
“Primarily, our staff just wanted students to know how much we miss them,” he said.
The biggest question on the minds of many parents and students is about high school seniors, including new graduation requirements and whether major ceremonies and prom will be allowed.
These are questions for ODE, not Canby School District, Goodall said.
“The state determines what is required for graduation and is working through what will change for this year’s seniors, and for our 9-11 grade students who may be missing credit-earning opportunities right now,” he said. “This is not a local decision.”
ODE has said it hopes to have this information available for families “soon,” which, based on past experience, means it will come out at 8:55 p.m. on a random Monday night with no warning. (Don’t worry: I’m not bitter.)
“Once we have that information, we will be able to answer more specific questions around what third trimester will look like,” Goodall said. “I want to assure you we will partner with our families around graduation requirements and to make sure 9-11 grade students remain on track.”
Goodall also took the opportunity of his recent letter to correct what he called “a lot of misinformation” that is circulating online. Students are not going to repeat their current grades next year, he said, and local students are not falling behind their peers, since statewide instruction stopped for everyone at the same time.
The district is finalizing their plan for students who need devices or internet connectivity, and will explain the process for accessing devices or mobile “hot spots” early next week.
Next week is also when the district expects to send out information outlining Canby’s Distance Learning for All plan, which will include online and offline learning with a consistent, predictable schedule.
“While we had been working to enhance out-of-classroom learning opportunities since early March, the new directive from ODE required us to rethink much of our planning,” Goodall admitted. “Districts were given 14 days to develop an entirely new instructional model in the middle of a global pandemic.
“We will rise to the challenge. We appreciate your patience as we do.”
For the latest information and resources from the Canby School District, visit the district’s COVID-19 page.
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