Hybrid in-person learning will begin for Canby High School after next week’s spring break — marking the first time most teens have re-entered their public school classrooms in more than a full calendar year.
Canby School District officials had long targeted April 1 as the target date for the hybrid model — which began for younger students several weeks ago — to be extended to junior high and high schoolers.
But the district confirmed at the Canby School District meeting Thursday night that students in grades 7 through 12 will have the option of returning to school for two half-days of in-person learning each week starting March 30.
Similar to the hybrid model already in effect at the district’s elementary and middle schools, older students who participate will be sorted into one of two cohorts (organized by last name), which will alternate in-person learning each day.
Cohort A are students with the last name starting with the letter A-L. They will meet in person on “Gold” Days (Tuesday and Thursday). Cohort B are students with the last name M-Z. They will meet in person on “Blue” Days (Wednesday and Friday). Students can see their cohort by going to their StudentVUE account.
On the days that students do not receive in-person learning in the morning, they will have several hours of live online instruction from their teachers in the afternoon.
Students will also be required to wear masks at all times when in school or on the bus, according to additional information sent out by CHS administration this week. Gaiters, bandanas and face shields are not allowed unless they are in addition to a face mask.
The school district is able to confidently offer hybrid in-person learning for all of its students thanks to falling coronavirus case counts and test positivity rates countywide.
The state recently released new metrics for offering in-person learning, which are now mandatory again — after being made elective the first few months of 2021. But even so, Clackamas County’s numbers have been comfortably within the so-called “green zone” for several weeks.
To qualify for that zone — in which public school districts are required to offer an on-site or hybrid learning mode — counties must have fewer than 200 new confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in a two-week period, as well as a positivity rate under 5%.
Fortunately, case counts have dropped precipitously — from more than 400 new cases per 100,000 in early December to just 86 new cases in early March. In fact, the county has seen fewer than 100 new cases per 100,000 every two-week reporting period since February — less than half of the number needed to qualify for the green zone.
The county’s test positivity rate, currently sitting at 4%, is closer to the 5% threshold, but it tends to fluctuate less than the case count. In fact, Clackamas County’s rate has been within the green zone since mid-January.
The new metrics were part of the updated Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance the Oregon Department of Education provided to schools on Monday.
The new guidance also removed the 100-person limit that had previously been in place for cohorts and adjusted screening requirements.
No changes were made to six-foot social distancing rules — though Superintendent Trip Goodall said that may be changing soon, with rumors that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to announce that public school students may safely sit as close as three feet to other students and instructors.
If true, that would significantly increase the number of students and staff that could be present in classrooms and school buildings at any one time.
This story will be updated.
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