January 20, 2021
Dear Coos Bay Schools parents and community,
After a late afternoon meeting with the Oregon Department of Education and some time reading last night, I would like to share two key changes to the Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance released yesterday which impact our schools and families.
Key Change 1: Governor Brown returned the decision for operating schools in-person to the local level on January 1, 2021. This guidance provides local leaders with guidance, information, and resources they need to make informed decisions.
The guidance outlined the multiple factors to consider when making decisions to transition between learning models or bring in additional grades to hybrid learning. I shared most all of these in a previous letter last week. Case numbers are one factor, but there are others we need to consider when we make a decision to change models of instructions.
Key Change 2: Updated advisory metrics aligned to the Harvard Global Health Institute recommendations. These metrics allow for a return to in-person instruction for elementary students at higher levels of community case rates than previously recommended.
This is the biggest change to the guidance. The metrics for schools have been aligned with the Harvard Global Health recommendations. These metrics use the same color-coded scale, but the numbers have shifted. The green zone has not changed. The yellow zone goes up to 200 cases per 100,000 in the county over two weeks. The orange zone now goes from 200-350 cases per 100,000. The red zone is over 350 cases per 100,000. Another part of this chart which can be found in the guidance under “metrics explainer”, is the blue section in the bottom right corner. This section explains that if cases are trending upward that we pause adding any grade levels to in-person instruction. It also states that we should not move elementary grade levels that are already in-person to CDL in this case. The new metrics specifically call out elementary (K-6) as the priority for in-person instruction.
With the information from this latest guidance, we are planning to move forward next week with bringing grades 4th - 6th back to an in-person hybrid instructional model beginning Monday, January 25, 2021.
Our case numbers in the county remain over 200 per 100,000 but they are trending downward as we look at last week and the numbers for this week so far. We will continue to monitor case numbers weekly and apply the new metrics as one of the factors as we make decisions moving forward.
As a reminder, 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 continue this process.
There is one thing I want to make perfectly clear to everyone. Now is not the time to relax on public health safety protocols. The vaccine is encouraging, but will not bring case numbers down immediately. We need to have our community case numbers trending down so that we get under the 200 cases per 100,000 to bring middle and high school students back to in-person hybrid instruction. This is going to take all of us continuing to practice public health safety protocols. Keep wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and social distancing when feasible. These are the things that have shown to slow the spread better than anything else.
As always, if you have questions, reach out to your teacher and schools. Also, you can report anonymous concerns to the district regarding the health and safety protocols within our schools and buildings using our Anonymous Concern Reporting Form under the COVID-19 resources tab at CBD9.net. I have included links below to the Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance, the Metrics Explainer, and an informational video from ODE Director Colt Gill.
I will continue to push out information as I get it. Have a great rest of the week!
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy,
Coos Bay Public Schools