Thousands of students could return to in-person learning in Beaverton, Oregon’s third-largest school district under a plan announced Monday.
According to a message the Beaverton School District sent to community members, middle and high schools would return to classrooms two days a week starting April 19. The district has already announced plans to launch hybrid instruction for elementary students “no earlier than April 5.”
“Students who opt for Hybrid would be divided into two attendance groups,” the BSD announcement explained. “They’d spend two full days on campus and three days online at home, as current state-mandated safety protocols do not allow for all students to be on campus at the same time.”
The announcement marks the largest school district in Oregon to roll out plans for secondary students to return to in-person instruction in significant numbers since schools shut down nearly a year ago.
The state’s largest district, Portland Public Schools, has announced its intention to begin hybrid instruction for its youngest students in April. Salem-Keizer administrators aim to start hybrid instruction for younger students in early March.
In Beaverton’s statement to community members, district leaders said the move was contingent on negotiations with unions representing school staff. A message to the Beaverton Education Association, the union representing the district’s teachers among others, was not immediately returned.
In the announcement, district officials said the more permissive COVID-19 restrictions approved by Gov. Kate Brown and detailed by the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Education helped open the door to in-person learning. The district also noted that Washington County had moved from “extreme risk” to “high risk” in terms of its COVID-19 case numbers, and administrators said that vaccinations for teachers were “welcomed.”
“All these factors have influenced our decision to change course at the middle and high school levels,” Beaverton Superintendent Don Grotting said in the statement to community members sent Monday. The announcement also noted the shelving of previous plans for ongoing distance learning through what it called “BSD Connect.”
The instructional approach would require teachers to deliver instruction simultaneously to students in their classrooms, as well as those remaining at home in distance learning.
“Simply put, teachers would provide live instruction from school to all students,” the Beaverton message said. “Students who prefer to stay in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) would receive that live instruction via their computers at home.”
The district message said parents who prefer to keep their students in distance learning can do so, but they’ll need to commit one way or the other “in the next few weeks.”
“While our new Hybrid plan won’t be the same as ‘regular’ school, we do think that it’s a step in the right direction,” said the Beaverton statement.