Bend-La Pine Schools Families,
In the week we have been open since coming back from winter break, it feels as if our conditions are changing on a daily, even hourly, basis. We have heard from many families, reaching out and wondering about the impact surging cases could have on our schools and extracurricular activities. My goal today is to share what we know to date, so that you can be as prepared as possible. Today’s update includes temporary changes to spectator rules and COVID-19 isolation and quarantine notification and an ask to begin thinking about what things would look like for your family if we need to move to remote learning - a last resort, but one we must begin to entertain, at a classroom or school level.
We understand that school closures would impact our families significantly. To be clear, our goal is to keep our students learning in-person, every day, as we know that this is the best place for them academically, socially, mentally and emotionally. Additionally, we are committed to do our best to continue extracurricular activities, with additional mitigation measures that are shared below. We believe we have proven that, with mitigation strategies in place like masking, and distancing, our schools are among the safest places for our students. However, we cannot continue to provide on-site instruction in a safe environment if we do not have sufficient staffing.
District leaders have been communicating with state health officials, meeting regularly with local health officials and our pediatric advisory team to monitor the COVID-19 situation in our community, and we’ve also been closely tracking data, nearly hourly, to determine COVID’s impact on our ability to continue to keep classrooms open. This includes, but is not limited to, monitoring the number of staff and students isolated with COVID-19, the number of staff and students in quarantine, and the number of staffing vacancies not covered by substitutes.
We are back-filling staff vacancies at every opportunity with staff from all departments, including administrators. Due to the increasing numbers of persons continuing to be isolated due to COVID-19, we may soon be in a position in which we are unable to have students learn safely at school due to staffing shortages. Should this occur, we would move a classroom, or entire school, to remote learning. Students would receive instruction remotely, with their teacher(s), via their school issued iPad. This transition would be at least five days in length and could be as many as ten or more, depending on the situation.
Because of this current situation, we urge you to have a contingency plan for your student(s) and family, should a change to remote learning need to occur. If a classroom or school transitions to remote learning, we will make every attempt to provide appropriate notification prior to the transition. The first day of the transition will be used by educators to prepare materials for students. Instruction will begin remotely on day two.
This weekend, Bend-La Pine Schools is making temporary changes to its COVID-19 notification system, due to an increased caseload for the district’s contact tracers and nursing team. If a student is identified as needing to isolate or identified as a close contact to a positive COVID-19 case, families will receive a phone call from 541-355-1000 or 971-301-4672. Isolation and quarantine information will be sent to the family email as well. Families who see an incoming call from 541-355-1000 or 971-301-4672 should make sure to answer it, as it will likely include pertinent information.
Additionally, families are encouraged to verify contact information on ParentVue or check with their school offices.
Bend-La Pine Schools believe strongly in the value of co-curricular and extracurricular activities. We remain committed to continuing these critical offerings for our students. To ensure delivery of these activities can continue as long as it is safe to do so, Bend-La Pine School is announcing changes to indoor spectator guidance for all athletic and activity events held at our schools, beginning Monday, January 10. These changes are being made to address rapidly escalating cases of COVID-19 in our community and in response to a memo from Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority from Jan. 3 , recommending “that schools bring extracurricular activities to a halt, or ensure they follow the same layered mitigation safety protocols practiced during the school day.”
Bend-La Pine Schools remains committed to delivering extra-curricular activities, believing them to be critical offerings for our students and, therefore, we are making changes to our current guidelines in order to protect our student participants and the greater school community.
These spectator modifications are intended to reduce contact exposures, encourage greater distancing, allow for 100% masking compliance, and further our efforts to protect our student athletes, coaches, and community.
Lowering capacity. We will begin by lowering capacities in our facilities and events through a student pass system.
Spectators agree to comply with guidelines. By accepting the pass and checking-in at the gate, spectators will agree to and be required to follow all COVID protocols, including wearing a mask at all times that covers the mouth and nose. Non-compliance with protocols could lead to verbal and written warning ultimately denying permission to enter and being trespassed from school properties per KK-AR.
No outside food or drink.
Streaming events. Spectators will be able to watch many athletics and activities events via the NFHS streaming service from home, work or remote location at no charge for the rest of the school year. Go to https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/ and search for your individual school to subscribe and find broadcast schedules.
Our hope is that these temporary measures will be short lived. We love to support our teams, clubs and activities. Please help us keep them going by following this guidance.
Superintendent Steven Cook