January 15, 2021
Dear Coos Bay Schools parents and community,
This school year has been filled with difficulties, struggles, and yes, success. With your help, we have been able to fight through many of the obstacles and provide teaching and learning for our kids. We fully realize that this year has been unusual and difficult in many ways.
I want to recognize that we have been able to have our kindergarten through third grade students in-person, if only part-time, for this entire year. We have seen success in many students who have been in Comprehensive Distance Learning. Our fully online program has seen success for many students as well. It has not been a smooth road and we have had to address issues in all models throughout the year.
One of the biggest issues is the large number of students who are struggling academically and emotionally throughout this school year, and last, due to the isolation caused by this COVID-19 pandemic. Although many students have been successful with distance learning, many more need the in-person contact with teachers, staff, and peers. We have seen positive growth academically and socially from our K-3 students who have been in-person. Although we have had a few community cases impact our schools and cause temporary quarantines of classrooms, those have been very limited. When cases came into our schools, we have been able to prevent the spread between cohorts and keep our students in the buildings. Our K-3 in-person model has worked well for half of the school year now.
On December 23rd, Governor Kate Brown issued a statement giving local schools the decision power to re-open and bring additional students into the buildings. She stated that she wanted districts to have a plan by February 15th to begin to bring more students back to in-person instruction. There are several factors that need to be considered when making this plan moving forward.
Two of the biggest factors that we have been asked by The Oregon Department of Education to consider are:
- It is critical that our community cases are low enough so that those cases do not impact our schools to the point of destabilizing the learning environment. (So far we have been able to manage cases from the community impacting our K-3 schools. However, when we add additional students, we add potential for cases to impact our schools.)
- We must continue the practice of public health and safety protocols like wearing face coverings, hand washing, and social distancing. We also must continue to adhere to sections 1-3 of the Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance.
In addition to these two factors, we must also consider the trend of case numbers in our community, student achievement, student mental health and well-being, and staff/student safety. These are all things that factor into a sound decision to add students to our in-person model.
Our district has carefully weighed the factors and we have developed a plan to offer more students the option of in-person instruction going forward. Within the plan there are “target dates” that we will look to add grade levels. We will gradually add grade levels and watch the factors after each addition, for a two-week period, before adding more grade levels. Once we have added all the grade levels, we will continue to monitor all the factors to make sure that we are successful. If at any time we see a destabilization of our learning environment due to multiple quarantines of students and staff, or the inability to adequately trace an exposure, we will move back to Comprehensive Distance Learning. In an effort to give families and staff the opportunity to plan, the Coos Bay School District has established the following “target dates*" to begin in-person instruction for the different grade levels.
- January 25 - Grades 4-6
- February 1 - Grade 7 (This date is selected because it is the beginning of the third quarter for our secondary students)
- February 15 February 16 - Grades 8-12
*All target dates are subject to a one-week delay if factors are not in our favor. You can expect weekly communication from me as we get this process started.
Our K-7 in-person model will be the same as our current K-3 model with AM/PM cohorts. Grades 8-12 are a bit more challenging as each student has multiple classes. We are working on what that model will look like and will get that information out to students and families as soon as possible.
The Coos Bay School District will continue to offer online options to those families that choose not to return to in-person instruction. We are dedicated to providing options for families to choose what is best for them. I want to thank everyone for your cooperation and support of our students as we have navigated through this difficult time. There will be challenges ahead, but I am confident in our administration, staff, students, families, and our community. Together we can continue to provide a positive learning experience for all kids.
Coos Bay Public Schools