Return to School FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

We will be addressing frequently asked questions from our community, staff, students and families. Click on the text in red, below, to see answers to that topic.

What current health metrics is the state using and how is Deschutes County faring?

The following advisory metrics come from Oregon Department of Education's Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance issued Jan. 19.

See current metrics by visiting Deschutes County Health Services' COVID-19 dashboard, which includes information about schools.

What are the current learning options available for families?

We are now offering three options for students:
1. All-in: All-in for grades K-12, in-person instruction in school classrooms.
2. Connected: Bend-La Pine Schools Online is our Connected option. The program, established more than ten years ago, provides self-guided online learning for free for any student in the district through Bend-La Pine Schools Online.
3. NEW District CDL: Students are connected with Bend-La Pine Schools’ teachers and learn via WebEx and lessons. Schedules similar to what students experience currently in CDL. Students in grades K-8 will continue to use district curricular materials for some or all of the classes, while students in grades 9-12 will use Bend-La Pine Schools Online curricula.

What happens if there is a positive case of COVID-19 in our school?

Bend-La Pine Schools employs 21 Registered Nurses who help oversee contact tracing, training and other COVID-19 interventions and responses.

The district’s nursing team has completed hundreds of case investigations and has been successfully contact tracing for several months. This experience has helped to develop systems that we believe can slow the transmission of COVID-19 at our worksites.

We are hiring five health aides to assist nurses with tasks associated with COVID-19 safety in schools. 

Symptomatic students and staff will continue to follow the protocols for quarantine and other measures, per the Bend-La Pine Schools COVID-19 Communications Guide.

There is potential this will occur at some schools or some classrooms may need to close due to an outbreak or quarantine. Affected cohorts will be contacted by phone or email with instructions. Sample messages can be found in the COVID-19 Communications document.

In some cases, staff and students may be sent home, or stay home, while contact-tracing takes place. This can take place with little notice and is case dependent. 

Families will need to remain flexible about child care, should a school, cohort, or classroom be required to temporarily close and families should have a back-up plan in case their student(s) are unable to attend in person as planned.

 All our students have iPads to support short-term distance learning, if necessary.

How did schools prepare for students to return?

A return to in-person instruction in our school buildings means implementing new procedures and protocols to keep our students and staff as healthy and safe as possible. Find details about each school's Safety Checklist here.

Masks: All students and staff will be required to wear masks while on school properties with few exceptions.

Hand-Washing: Handwashing or use of hand sanitizer upon entry to the building is required for all. Handwashing is also required: after restroom use, prior to/after eating, when hands are soiled, after recess, before and after touching shared equipment, etc. Handwashing lessons will be provided at the elementary level.

Classrooms: Classrooms have been measured and there will be 35 square feet of space per person (including the teacher) when determining room capacity.

Transitions: We stagger classes of students in hallways to limit numbers in hallways at any time; we created one-way traffic patterns in hallways as allowable to the extent possible.

Meals: Meals will include appropriate physical distancing in cafeterias and use of alternative spaces for some. Tables and surfaces will be sanitized between use according to facilities sanitization guidelines. Grab and go meals continue at some school sites. Visit our School Meals page to learn more.

Recess: Schools will stagger recess to limit the number of students together outside. Schools will designate playground and shared equipment solely for the use of one cohort at a time. School staff will design recess activities that allow for physical distancing and maintenance of stable cohorts.

Transportation: We have adjusted routes and school start times in order to reduce the number of students on each bus. Students will be assigned a seat and masks are required. Learn more on our School Bus webpage.

Cleaning/Sanitizing/Disinfecting: Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, desks, phones, light switches, computers and faucets will be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. Our custodial and facilities staff will be using a combination of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting to keep our schools clean and safe. All staff will perform regular cleaning of their spaces (using approved district cleaning agents) between multiple student or staff uses of their space. The district purchased more than 700 flat mops to use to clean of the tops of desks. Every school has at least one electro static sprayer, which custodians use to clean an entire school at night.

Ventilation: Buildings will maximize fresh outdoor air and minimize indoor air recirculation. Allowing fresh air into a room dilutes and displaces airborne particles, which may decrease virus transmission. Thanks to updates to our systems, our schools’ HVAC systems will bring in fresh air an hour before school starts as well as throughout the day as we filter classroom air through medical grade MERV-13 filters six to seven times each hour. Bend-La Pine Schools will operate ventilation systems properly and/or increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible by opening windows and doors, using fans, and through other methods.

What can we expect on buses?

Our drivers will be masking up and our students will be doing the same on school buses, per guidance released by the state on Dec. 7. We will also be opening windows on buses to increase air flow, as long as weather allows. And, with your help, we will be routing our buses to carry fewer students while increasing physical distance between non-family riders.

Watch a video to learn more about safety practices:

Are schools continuing to serve free meals to students? What about grab and go offerings?

Our schools continue to make free breakfast and lunch available to all students at school. Additionally, we offer several Grab and Go sites in the district where families with children who are not in school (learning remotely, etc.) can grab a free meal.

Details are available on our School Meals webpage. (as well as menus for each day.)

Are staff and students be required to wear masks?

Will staff and students be required to wear masks?

Per ODE Guidance, page 30, “Face coverings are required for all students in grades kindergarten and up, along with all staff.”

Mask Policy (Restrictions on Face Shield Use): A cloth, paper, or disposable face mask (without valves) that covers the nose and the mouth is the requirement for all BLS students and staff with some exceptions. When exceptions apply, a face shield is permissible, but other safety practices should be implemented, such as maintaining more than 6 feet of social distancing and/or added ventilation of fresh air. See the CDC website for information that supports this decision

The exceptions are:
1. For provisions applicable to staff/students protected by ADA or IDEA 

2. For safety reasons, such as a bus driver when a mask impedes vision

3. For specific and time-limited instructional needs such as speech and language, LIPS reading group, ELL lessons or other examples when viewing a teacher’s or student’s mouth is essential to that portion of the lesson. As soon as possible within the lesson, masks should replace the shields;

4. For younger children moving into in-person education who exhibit severe emotional dysregulation when wearing a mask. Staff should employ strategies to transition them from shields into mask wearing: mindfulness exercises, increase in the frequency of outdoor mask breaks, and other trauma-informed best practices.

5. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those who care for or interact with a person who is hearing impaired.

6. Other time-limited exceptions of short durations may be made with administrative knowledge.

A cloth mask with a clear panel is an acceptable option, as is the use of a shield over a mask for added protection. Individuals working in a private, single use workspace and outside workers who can maintain at least 6 feet of physical distancing do not need to wear a mask or shield.

If you anticipate your child having any difficulty wearing a mask, please reach out to your school before in-person instruction begins to problem-solve the situation.

After further discussions with our health professionals, it was learned that most local medical centers have changed their masking guidelines and are no longer allowing gaiters, buffs and bandanas as substitutes for cloth/disposable masks that fit snugly around the mouth and nose.

For students (or staff) who are attached to their logo gaiters, this will come as a disappointment. We can exchange their gaiter/buff with one of our district provided masks, or, buffs/gaiters placed OVER a mask that adheres to our requirements are permissible. Masks with valves or otherwise vent air are never acceptable.

Below are CDC guidelines that we will follow in BLS.

How does physical distancing work at elementary schools?

This spring, the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority revised school distancing guidance, aligning with revised guidelines released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which says when physical distancing maintain at least 3 feet between students to the maximum extent in all daily activities and instruction, so long as COVID-19 safety protocols are maintained.

How will classrooms and other spaces be cleaned?

Families can learn more about our cleaning protocols in our online document.

We added additional custodial staff to help maintain a clean and healthy environment for our students and staff. During the school/work day, all staff will help to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in our facilities. After the end of the school/work day our custodial staff will perform a deeper cleaning of all classrooms and other spaces.

How will lunch and recess work at elementary schools?

Each school has designed procedures and schedules that adhere to Oregon Department of Education guidelines around cohorts and social distancing that work for their school building layout and student population.

Each school has convened its Safety Team made up of a variety of staff members to create a plan on how they will implement ODE’s safety requirements for in-person instruction. Please click here to view school plans which include meal procedures.

What are the required protcols for hand hygiene?

There are two types of hand hygiene: hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60- 95% alcohol. The Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance identifies different protocols for different daily needs.

Hand Washing Required for Restrooms
The July 30 guidance (version 1.5.8) clarifies that students are required to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds when using the restroom.

Hand Washing or Hand Sanitizer is Required When:

  • Students enter school
 (Ensure hand sanitizer is available if signing children in or out on an electronic 
  • Before meals, after meals is also encouraged
  • Before and after using playground equipment
  • After coughing, sneezing or handling used tissues

ADA accommodations: Reasonable accommodations must be provided for students who require additional support to practice hand hygiene. 
Staff must work to create inclusive school culture that promotes health and safety for all. Staff must not employ punitive measures in conjunction with hand hygiene, which may serve to further marginalize students whom schools have historically and currently underserved.


  • Use hand hygiene as an opportunity to teach health-promoting habits.
  • Some students may need additional support to be able to independently practice hand 
  • As with other new routines, use responsive and positive supports to promote student 
hand hygiene.

What else should staff consider to facilitate student hand hygiene? 

  • Remind students through signage and regular reminders from staff of the utmost importance of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. 
o Respiratory etiquette means covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow or a tissue. 
o Tissues should be disposed of and hands washed or sanitized immediately.
  • Install hand sanitizer dispensers near all entry doors and other high-traffic areas.
  • Plan ahead for the time needed to teach and support hand hygiene routines. 
Incorporate time needed for hand hygiene into the schedule or transition periods. 

(Information from Oregon Department of Education)

Additional Information

Oregon Department of Education

Guiding Principles for Bend-La Pine Schools

Communication to Families

Read all of our communication to families on our Return to School webpage.

Return to School

Hybrid Learning

Hybrid Learning

Comprehensive Distance Learning

Comprehensive Distance Learning

Support for Families

Support for Families

Health and Safety FAQ

Health and Safety