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Medford K-12 students will begin school year fully remote; District to reassess every 3 weeks

Superintendent Dr. Bret Champion described a 'rhythm' that the Medford School District will use to regularly decided whether students can return in in-person classes.

Posted: Aug 5, 2020 6:00 PM
Updated: Aug 5, 2020 6:29 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — Students of the Medford School District will begin the 2020-21 school year with fully remote learning, but Superintendent Dr. Bret Champion says that administrators plan to reassess on a "predictable rhythm" to determine if students can return to class in person.

Oregon school districts have been rapidly modifying their plans for the fall after Governor Kate Brown revealed the state's coronavirus metrics for school reopening on July 28. Dr. Champion said shortly following that announcement that Medford's plans had been "upended" somewhat by those metrics, and the District has been working on a new strategy ever since.

On Wednesday, the Medford School District released its new plans, which will began with all K-12 students learning remotely via Comprehensive Distance Learning.

Dr. Champion said that the District has used a color-coded system to separate the three levels of instruction stipulated by Oregon's metrics. "Green" would allow for all students to have in-person classes, "Yellow" would be only in-person for K-3 students, and "Red" equates to fully remote learning.

As of this week, Medford School District is now in the "Red" based on the number of recent COVID-19 cases in Jackson County alone, Dr. Champion said. Last week, Jackson County's case rate per 100,000 shot up to 42.5, with a test positivity rate of 5.6 percent — both metrics above Oregon's criteria for any in-person learning.

The same metrics currently keeping Medford School District from returning with in-person classes will also affect other school districts in Jackson County, some of which had tentatively planned to start the year with grades K-3 in class.

“Right now, we are very, very, very far from Green,” Dr. Champion underscored.

For that reason, all Medford K-12 students will start school remotely — for at least the first six weeks. However, the District plans to keep revisiting those metrics every three weeks, with the possibility of shifting students back to in-person classes after six weeks.

In theory, the "rhythm" will work like this:

  • All Medford K-12 students begin the year learning remotely.
  • After three weeks, school officials will take a look at the metrics. If Jackson County has solidly returned to "Yellow" or "Green" for those three weeks, teachers and staff will prepare for students to begin in-person classes three weeks later.
  • If those favorable metrics hold, students return to in-person classes — either all students if in the "Green," or K-3 if in the "Yellow."

Like some other local districts, Medford has also launched an online-only learning method that functions separately, dubbed Medford Online Academy. So far, 600 students have signed up for the program, which caters to families who prefer online learning to potential in-person classes.

For students who are in the general population — at the very least beginning the year with Comprehensive Distance Learning — classes will be led by teachers in fairly typical class style for the first half of each day, using Zoom and Canvas to interface. The other half of each school day will be dedicated to other, independent projects or having one-on-one time with teachers.

“You don’t want a kid on Zoom for seven hours every day,” Dr. Champion said.

School begins for Medford School District students on September 8, which means the District will be releasing its first metrics assessment on September 29. The soonest that students could return to in-person classes would be on October 19.

This is a developing story, and will be updated with more details as they emerge.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 29850

Reported Deaths: 521
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6649130
Marion430988
Washington418058
Umatilla287441
Clackamas218661
Malheur146023
Jackson9943
Lane89014
Deschutes73212
Yamhill71814
Jefferson4968
Polk48715
Morrow4765
Lincoln47013
Linn43813
Union4352
Klamath2602
Benton2456
Hood River2390
Wasco2303
Douglas1943
Josephine1802
Columbia1451
Coos1340
Clatsop1050
Baker892
Crook601
Tillamook460
Lake290
Wallowa291
Curry260
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant80
Gilliam70
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 771321

Reported Deaths: 14691
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2561486303
Riverside562011136
Orange512591111
San Bernardino51252838
San Diego43445748
Kern30916333
Fresno27312348
Sacramento20660364
Alameda20097356
Santa Clara19760293
San Joaquin19623399
Stanislaus16052317
Contra Costa15489194
Tulare15361253
Ventura11932138
Imperial11435309
San Francisco1049091
San Mateo9264142
Monterey908965
Santa Barbara8741107
Merced8645131
Kings714477
Sonoma6777110
Marin6477106
Solano600752
Madera426758
Placer337340
San Luis Obispo329326
Yolo271053
Butte269531
Santa Cruz20967
Sutter160810
Napa158013
San Benito125410
Yuba10927
El Dorado10514
Mendocino80818
Lassen7290
Shasta65212
Glenn5393
Colusa4996
Nevada4965
Tehama4843
Humboldt4816
Lake4187
Calaveras30513
Amador28616
Tuolumne2163
Inyo18714
Mono1632
Siskiyou1580
Del Norte1351
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc230
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
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