NCSD Board Discusses COVID and Closure Updates

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NCSD School Board Meeting on January 13th via YouTube livestream.

Cassandra Roshu, Editor in Chief

The North Clackamas School District Board discusses where they stand on moving into Comprehensive Distance Learning, as well as additional resources introduced to minimize the spread of COVID-19, during their meeting on Thursday, January 13th. 

District Chief of Staff Tiffany Shireman shares that the school district is only considering moving back to CDL, but intends to make it their priority not to. The decision to prepare for school closure is dependent on multiple factors including student and staff absence, the rate at which substitute teachers are available and availability of transportation, nutrition services and the reallocation of district staff.  If any of the previous factors deem true, then the priority is to keep middle and elementary schools in-person, closing the high schools and sending resources to the younger levels.

Joe Bridgeman, Executive Director of Student and Family Support Services, shares that for the first two weeks of January we have nearly eclipsed the total number of positive cases throughout the school year. The rate of high school attendance in the district has dropped -10% since the week before winter break and 45% of classroom teachers in 2022 were not able to have a substitute–compared to 3-5% in 2020 and 2019. 

The school board has recently taken many steps towards minimizing the spread of COVID-19 within the district like increasing the number of hired substitutes, moving many events and meetings virtual, athletic and activity modifications, daily data review and a supply of KN95 masks to staff. Most significantly, the district has partnered with Clackamas County Public Health to provide three vaccination clinics in the district–located at Rex Putnam High School, Adrienne C. Nelson High School and Milwaukie High School–which will open later this month. At the moment, there is an ample amount of COVID-19 tests available to students who have had exposure at school sites. For other exposures, Oregon state has purchased over 12 million tests which will be distributed very soon through schools to families.

Despite the importance and value that the school board has placed on keeping students in the classroom, board members share their concerns and inclinations towards temporary closure. Board Chair Libra Forde shares her kids’ experiences with having art teachers take over pre-calculus and PE teachers take over science.

“I know we all fought for them to be back in the classroom, but this is not what I expected. This is not what the kids deserve and even though, yes, emotionally we want them to be okay, I’m not sure this is okay either,” Forde says.

The board plans to meet virtually moving forward. Although no decision has been made on whether or not schools in the district will do the same, students and parents should prepare for that possibility.

“I hope you all can understand that we’re still all here as a community and we will not give up. We may not always agree with each other. We may not always like what’s going on. But we will always show up together. And that’s what matters. Everything else will be history one day and we all will look back on this and think, we did it. So thank you for showing up. No matter how you feel about any of us, we appreciate you regardless.”