Woodburn High School.

The Woodburn School District announced plans to start reopening in March, but it may take longer for students at the high school (pictured here). Like other districts, Woodburn is starting the reopening process with its youngest students.

Phoebe Flanigan / OPB

The Woodburn School District has announced its intention to offer some in-person instruction beginning in March.

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“We are working diligently to refine plans that will ensure we continue to meet your students’ needs,” said Acting Superintendent Juan Larios in a statement. “Our commitment to getting students back in our schools in a safe and healthy way, has not wavered.”

Families will have the option to keep their kids in distance learning, or they can instead choose a hybrid model of instruction. According to a draft schedule, in that model, students would see their teachers and learn in-person two days a week.

The announcement was posted on the district’s website the same day negotiations were set to begin with the Woodburn Education Association, the union representing Woodburn teachers.

Kathy Kuftin, WEA president, shared a statement with the district school board Tuesday, sharing concern for the plan to start reopening in March.

“WSD has apparently absolved itself from accountability to science by preparing a hasty transition to hybrid instruction,” Kuftin said Tuesday.

“However that does not free WSD from accountability to the Woodburn community, a community where COVID rates have consistently remained among the top 10 highest zip codes in the state.”

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More than 80% of Woodburn students are Latino, a population hit hard by COVID-19. Marion County has some of the highest case counts in Oregon, with 4,898 total cases per 100,000.

As the district plans for reopening and potentially difficult contract talks with its teachers, administrators will be operating under new leadership, too.

Tuesday, the board voted to place Superintendent Oscar Moreno Gilson on paid administrative leave “while an outside investigator is retained to investigate into a personnel complaint,” according to board chair Anthony Medina.

The board notes the complaint does not relate to students.

“Because of personnel policies and legal considerations, we cannot discuss the nature of the allegations,” reads the board’s statement.

Moreno Gilson was named Woodburn superintendent in March 2020. He had previously worked as an administrator for Portland Public Schools.

In the meantime, Director of the Department of School Performance Juan Larios has been named acting superintendent.

Meantime, parents in Woodburn have a decision before them. Larios is asking families to decide whether to stay in distance learning or move to the hybrid model, by Feb. 12.




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