Message from Superintendent Johnson: Updates and Information on new changes for COVID 19

January 20, 2021

Dear CSD Community,

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Association announced some changes that impact our ability to bring back Creswell students safely for on-site in-person learning. I also want you to know that these changes are being processed by state and district legal advisors in regards to recent passage of HB 4402 COVID-19 legal liability protection and District’s COVID-19 limited liability insurance coverage. I will do my best to share what I know about these new changes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic March 2020, we have diligently followed the Governor’s Executive Orders, ODE and OHA guidance, rules and directives with full confidence in their expertise in the field of public health and safety and education institutional guidance.

What did ODE change?

  • The State has changed the advisory health metrics for on-site in-person learning. Under the previous health metrics that expired yesterday, positive COVID-19 cases in Lane County had to drop below 100 per 100,000 residents (during the previous two-week period) to begin on-site in-person learning. Now, ODE will use new advisory metrics, based on Harvard Global Health Institute guidelines:
    • If over 350 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): No in-person instruction
    • If 200 – 350 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): Focus on elementary in-person instruction
    • If 50 – 199 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): Expand in-person instruction beyond elementary
    • If under 50 cases per 100,000 (during the previous two-week period): All in-person instruction

At this time, the current case count per 100,000 in Lane County is 291, last week 284, and the week prior 250.

What did ODE not change?

  • ODE did NOT change the mandatory social distancing requirement as described in the Ready School Safe Learners guidance. That means that each student still must have a “space bubble” of 35 square feet.
  • ODE did NOT change the mandatory cohort requirements. That means that the maximum number of students in a cohort is 20, a student may not be in more than 2 cohorts per day and a student may not have contact with more than 100 people per week. These requirements are our biggest barriers to resuming in-person learning for our middle and high school students.

What else do we know?

  • The Governor has announced that educators will begin to receive the vaccine, starting on January 25. CSD has been collaborating with Lane County Public Health Department and local health providers on how to roll out those vaccines to our 190 employees as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, this situation is very fluid.

Addressing some misconceptions

  • Understandably, some parents are frustrated when they see other school districts around the country open to full in-person instruction when CSD is not. It’s important to recognize that Oregon has more stringent mandatory safety protocols in place than do other states. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • Some parents also are frustrated to see other school districts in Oregon announcing their intentions to reopen to on-site in-person learning in some form i.e., Limited In-person Learning, Hybrid Learning, etc. Please realize that each district has unique circumstances with COVID-19 spread in their school district community, their ability to address all ODE in-person learning protocol requirements, availability of staff for in-person instruction, training for all staff on the 160 OHA and ODE protocols and the new requirement for on-site COVID-19 testing to be available by March 1. Again, it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • One issue that has been underreported to communities by ODE centers on liability. If a school district elects to begin in-person learning without meeting the advisory health metrics, the district will no longer have the liability protection that was recently extended by the Oregon Legislature and HB 4402. In short and to the point, if and when anyone were to become sick (or worse) from COVID-19 in relation to district activities, a district could face expensive lawsuits without legal lability protection and insurance coverage for damages. Most districts, including ours, cannot afford to take on that level of risk. Any legal settlements would directly impact the viability of the district and future funding for students.

Our district leadership team just learned of these changes (and many others) since yesterday. Please allow our team an opportunity to thoughtfully consider the latest guidance from ODE as they revise the required operational Blueprints for on-site in-person learning. We hope to have more information and timelines for you in the coming weeks or even days, due to the rapidly changing guidance. Meanwhile, we will continue with sports conditioning and workouts at CHS (soon beginning at CMS), and on-site limited in-person learning for small cohorts that began this week. As we become more efficient with COVID-19 protocols and on-site learning requirements, we will expand with additional phases of limited in-person learning cohorts for on-site learning, as allowed by the health metrics.

Thank you for your patience and continued support as our partners in education!

Sincerely,

Mike Johnson, Superintendent

View this message as a PDF (link)

Message from Superintendent Johnson: Thank you, Updates, and Survey Results

Friday, January 15, 2021

Dear CSD Community,

I want to start by saying, “THANK YOU” for the work you are doing as parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors to support our students this year. It is important to me that you understand we recognize and appreciate the role each of you is playing. Secondly, your participation in the recent CSD survey “Plans to Reopen School” that closed on December 16, is very much appreciated and has proved to be instrumental for making improvements on our comprehensive distancing learning system and for informing our plans to return students to on-site learning.

In my last letter to you, I reported out on our county and community COVID-19 conditions. I also informed you that we anticipate new direction from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education on January 19, for returning students to in-school learning. Meanwhile, this week we started high school sports and conditioning workouts and next week we will begin limited in-person learning on-site for small groups of students. So, in short, you will be seeing Creswell School District buses driving in our communities and small numbers of students walking into school buildings. Our plan is to systematically begin instruction with a few small groups (cohorts) of students and then progressively adding subsequent groups to the extent possible. While it is not all of our students, it is a starting point and we are looking forward to it. Please know that your input on the survey assisted us with these two on-site activities.

As promised, I am providing you with the results from the survey (link). You will also see that we have responded to your input. We will continue to use the survey data to inform our decisions for improvements and returning students to on-site learning.

Please keep in mind the safety of our staff and students is always at the forefront of our decisions.

We will get through this together!

Sincerely,

Mike Johnson, Superintendent

 

Direct link to survey results: https://drive.google.com/file/d/11PfDe2z9aBhz67sA4jvMx1suLxHju6BL/view?usp=sharing

 

With Recognition and Appreciation: Creswell SD Board of Directors

2016_School_Board_Month_proclamationJanuary is School Board Recognition Month in Oregon.

Creswell School District is joining with other districts throughout the state to recognize the important contributions school board members make to our communities.

School board members contribute their time and talents toward advancement of public education. They represent a continuing commitment to local citizen control and decision-making in education.

The students of Creswell School District are served well by their School Board. Their commitment and dedication to our community is appreciated.

It is with high regard that we give this recognition to our dedicated local leaders: Board Chair Mike Anderson, Board Vice Chair Lacey Risdal, Director David Eusted, Director Kandice Lemhouse Worsham, Director Mark Parker, Director Debi Wilkerson, and Director Ashley Miller 

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Creswell School Board Meeting: Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Creswell School Board Meeting for January 2021

The Creswell School Board will hold their regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 7:00 PM. This will be a virtual meeting. Review the meeting agenda (link)

Please click the link below to join the School Board Meeting as an audience member (Meeting registration required): https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_a59OaJsRQhaGWVNfqpa7Mw (After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.)

The active weblink to view this meeting on YouTube will be provided here on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Board Meeting Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIdSyV-kQxg

Written comments will be accepted and should be sent by email to info@creswell.k12.or.us . Comments must be received by noon on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Comments must be limited in length to be read in 3 minutes. Comments will be read into public record by the Board Chair at the meeting.

For more information, please contact Marilyn Cruzan at 541-895-6000

Message from Superintendent Johnson: updates regarding in-person on-site instruction and the path for CSD moving forward

Dear Creswell Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff,

First, thank you for your patience and support through these unprecedented conditions and rapidly changing directions from state and health authorities. I know this has been challenging and frustrating for all of us in our personal lives, work situations and educating our kids.

I’d like to take this opportunity to follow up on my last letter sent at the beginning of this week, to give you an update and provide some clarity on where we stand as a district in terms of on-site learning. Like you, we are looking forward to the time when all students are safely back in school with us.

Returning students safely back to on-site learning is a high priority and our goal in CSD. Our District leadership team has been working diligently to develop Blueprint Plans for limited in-person on-site learning, hybrid on-site learning and athletics participation 6-12.

In this letter, you will find:

  • Information on the Governor’s changes and direction to ODE and OHA.
  • Current Lane County and Creswell COVID-19 metric case counts.
  • Where we are and where we are going with on-site learning.

Changes in State Guidelines for Schools:

Governor Brown has asked local school districts to continue making decisions based on science and public health and safety as we work toward in-person on-site learning. This has been our goal and we will be continuing in that path. The Governor also informed us that educators have been moved up in the vaccine distribution to Group 1b. That could happen anytime between a few weeks to a few months from now.

Oregon has established public health metrics to guide decisions for in-person on-site learning. Her recent direction to ODE and OHA was to shift the state metrics by January 1, to “advisory” recommendations for on-site learning from mandatory restrictions. Although she directed this shift to ODE and OHA, she maintained that the metrics would continue to be used as the guide for districts and schools to return safely to on-site learning. Her direction to ODE and OHA also included a review of the thresholds for COVID-19 case rates and the state metrics as well as the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance by January 19. OHA was also directed to develop a plan for rapid on-site testing to be available in schools. We are looking forward to the release of the upcoming guidance from ODE and OHA to adjust our Blueprint plans for on-site learning to the greatest extent possible.

Current COVID-19 Metric Case Counts:

As I have stated, the health and safety of our students and staff are the absolute priority in CSD. Current COVID-19 case rates remain in the Extreme Category for both Lane County and Creswell. The Lane County cases are currently at 318 per 100,000 and they must be considered for CSD reopening, not only because county rates are required by the state and OHA, but also because over 50% of our District staff reside in the Eugene/Springfield communities and approximately the same percentage of our Creswell community work in Eugene/Springfield as well. The Creswell case rates as reported by OHA on 12/4/2020, was 191 total cases, 35 active cases. When applying the CDC cases per 100,000 population formula, Creswell was above Lane County rates at 419 cases per 100,000. I will continue to work closely with Lane County Public Health Network to determine next steps in the school reopening process.

  • At this time, we continue to be under the direction of the state with the metrics until the January 19 ODE revision is released.
  • We have been informed by our district insurance carrier that we will not be covered for COVID-19 related liabilities, if we are not following all RSSL guidance and health authority recommendations.
  • We will continue to make decisions based on the local public health data and metrics to determine when its safe for students to return to in-person on-site learning modes.

The state and OHA health and safety measures (160 of them), also continue to be required on district property, including wearing face masks, maintaining 6’ physical distance, cohort limitations and group size limits.

Where we are with on-site learning and next steps:

  • CSD will continue to provide CDL and COA online learning as our primary mode of instruction and will adjust to on-site instruction in accordance with health and safety regulations and state and ODE guidance.
  • We have completed a survey to get input from parents/guardians, staff and students for moving forward with Comprehensive Distance Learning, Creswell Online Academy, and in-person on-site learning.
  • We have completed Blueprints for limited in-person on-site learning for CES, CMS, and CHS.
  • Teachers have offered input and recommendations for select students to participate in limited on-site learning based on educational, relational, curricular, instructional, and/or assessment needs.
  • Principals are in the process of collaborating with staff at their building levels to develop small groups of students for limited in-person on-site learning to begin the week of January 18.
  • Principals will be providing information to families regarding their plans for rolling out in-person on-site learning the week of January 11.
  • I have been working with legal counsel since October 2020, to develop a liability protection framework for school athletic and community based athletic activities on district property.
  • In December 2020, I finalized a framework for releasing COVID-19 liabilities for school athletic programs and community youth organizations to access district property for sports activities.
  • CHS coaches organized virtual meetings with their athletes during the weeks of December 28 and January 4.
  • CHS sports programs will begin workouts and conditioning activities the week of January 11.
  • Babe Ruth is scheduled to begin team practices in February.
  • On January 19, the Governor is scheduled to release the ODE RSSL guidance, the OHA COVID-19 metric threshold evaluation, educator vaccination time-line, and on-site testing availability for schools.
  • After the release from the Governor on January 19, I will meet with the CSD licensed and classified association leaders to review the guidelines and plans to return to in-person on-site hybrid learning.
  • By February 5, Blueprint plans for in-person on-site hybrid learning will be completed.
  • When health conditions allow and we are in compliance with RSSL guidance, we will begin to rollout hybrid in-person learning with staggered start dates for K & 1, 2 & 3, followed by grades 4 & 5, then 6-12.

As I have said before, this pandemic is a very fluid situation with rapid changes from week to week and often on a daily basis. We will continue to do our best to provide the healthiest and safest approach to providing the highest quality education possible, given the most difficult circumstances we have ever experienced in education.

I will continue to provide you with updates on the most current information as quickly as I possibly can. Please know that I diligently research and process all information with all state and local agencies to provide you with the most accurate and reliable information.

Again, I am humbled to be the Superintendent and leader of this great staff and I thank you for your support as we work together to educate all kids.

Sincerely,

Mike Johnson, Superintendent