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Although Lincoln County will be heading back to High Risk of the Governor’s COVID-19 framework on Friday, the Lincoln County School District (LCSD) plans to continue making progress toward returning to a normal school schedule.

On Monday, March 22, Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) updated the Ready Schools, Safe Learner Guidance that all K-12 school districts must follow throughout the state. Some of the updates include the following:

• Elementary schools must maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students to the maximum extent possible.

• Middle and High schools must maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students to the maximum extent possible when the county case rate is

• Middle and High schools must maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between students to the maximum extent possible when the county case rate is ≥200 (yellow and red levels on the metrics chart in Section 0).

• All schools must maintain 6 feet between staff at all times and 6 feet between staff and students to the maximum extent possible.

• Removal of the 35 sq ft per person requirement and other physical distancing changes are documented in the RSSL guidance.

• Research Informing Changes in K-12 COVID-19 Guidance

Although county COVID-19 rates continue to increase, the LCSD still remains in the green level of the school guidance set in place by ODE. Because of this, LCSD Superintended Dr. Karen Gray announced this week they will allow students K-12 to be three feet apart and to remove the 35 square foot rule. The new rule also allows LCSD to return to classrooms four days a week full time.

“To be clear, that would mean that we will be moving from hybrid two days a week in school and three days a week out of school to four days per week in school full time with only Wednesdays asynchronous,” Gray said in a letter to the community. “Once a district has gone back to full-time school, even if the numbers increase, the school/district follows the safety protocols and continues to have school full time, so no going back (unless it becomes impossible to know that you can keep kids and staff safe).”

LCSD plans to make this change starting Monday, April 19 for all grades. This will give LCSD two weeks required notice to prepare and get transportation ready.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure that everything is in place carefully and safely to make sure that this transition happens smoothly,” Gray said.

Dr. Gray said it has been nearly 13 months since LCSD ceased full-time school. The 9-12 high school students will still come back on April 12 hybrid so that they can get used to being back in school and practice all of the established safety and health protocols. Then they will move to full-time. 

“Schools are not where COVID spreads,” Gray said. “If and when someone gets a positive COVID diagnosis at school, we immediately jump to our protocols and quarantine those that must be quarantined. Staff with two shots of vaccine do not quarantine with a positive case in their classroom. All safety protocols will be followed, including wearing a mask at all times except when eating (eating is still six feet distance), washing hands, using sanitizer, staying home when ill and being visually checked before entering the school.” 

Edmentum and Comprehensive Distance Learning for those that want it continues until the end of the current school year. Gray asked parents to contact their principals with questions on this. Transportation will be set up and scheduled, and all meals continue, including the regular curbside pick-up. 

“I cannot express how much I appreciate how hard this school year has been on students, parents, community, and staff,” Gray said. “I believe that we have learned valuable lessons about education, communication, grace, and kindness throughout everything. We have learned more about safety and health protocols than I think we ever wanted to, but it has taught us a great deal. We have known how to be nimble and accommodating.

“I hope that you feel that we have done our absolute best throughout an impossible situation. The district has advertised public online forums in April and May designed to listen to you share with us what education practices worked for you and your children so that we can grow and learn for next year.”

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