Our first cohort of students returned to school for hybrid learning on Monday, April 19. Their Advocates welcomed them back with music, encouragement, and socially-distanced air-fives. After a year of distance learning, both students and teachers were ready to connect in a safe and supportive environment.
Like many of our district partners, we offer hybrid learning in two cohorts, which meet two days per week for 2.5 hours per day. While we wish we could all be together for full school weeks, this schedule allows for very small class sizes and adequate time for deep cleaning. Another cohort of students opted to remain in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL). With our deep focus on equity, we are ensuring that students who remain in CDL get the same proactive and relationship-centered academic and social-emotional support we’ve offered since last March.
Before re-opening, we prepared our students and families for safe re-entry. Staff worked with families to address concerns and ensure that students had the transportation they needed to get to school. They also delivered essential PPE, information about Covid protocols, and other resources. The Trail Blazers even provided water tumblers with straws to eliminate trips to the water fountain.
We also fully prepped our building for the return to in-person. Crews installed new air filters, sanitizing stations, and contactless bathroom fixtures. An amazing team of volunteers rolled up their sleeves to make sure our building was clean, beautiful and ready for students! They spaced out desks, added acrylic dividers, and installed directional signage to ensure one-way traffic around the building.
Through support of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), we added a School Health Coordinator to our staff to serve as our health and policy expert. She is trained by OHA to create and adhere to policies that will keep our community safe. She screens staff and students as they enter the building, and is trained in rapid testing for anyone who may show warning signs of Covid-19.
We are grateful for the partnership with OHA, which allowed us to add this staff role and provide support to families throughout this past year. OHA has helped us provide outreach/education resources and comprehensive quarantine support for any family that faced a diagnosis.
The BIPOC community has been disproportionately affected by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. We are committed to meeting that challenge and for more than 14 months we’ve added new staffing, programs, and outreach to provide the support that marginalized kids and families need and deserve.
Even if we can’t be together like we used to, we are grateful for our community coming together to face these challenges.