Bend-La Pine Schools elementary students will go back to school full time next fall, while middle and high school students will split their time between the classroom and online learning from home, according to a July 1 letter sent to parents from Lora Nordquist, Bend-La Pine Schools interim superintendent.
- This fall, elementary school students will have the option to return to in-person classes full time, while those in middle and high school will learn both online and in the classroom.
Nordquist has named the new system the "ABC approach" for All In, Balanced and Connected learning options, and emphasized that it's tentative and based on both new Oregon Department of Education guidelines and feedback that she received from parents.
"We understand, from your feedback this spring, that a primary objective in developing our plan should be to maximize the number of students who can engage in face-to-face learning, while also providing flexible learning options for students," she wrote.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade will return full-time (All In) for in-person instruction with teachers. This will help both parents and teachers in the district with childcare, Nordquist told the Source.
"We believe that our youngest students learn best in three dimensions, with ongoing adult support as they learn not only academic subjects, but basic social-emotional skills that are best learned in person," Nordquist wrote.
Middle and high school students will come to school part time (Balanced) while also adhering to a structured online program from home where they'll have daily contact with their teachers and regular feedback. They may come in during staggered hours or on alternating days in order to maintain the social distancing requirements mandated by the State.
With parents, teachers and students all on the same online learning platform (Canvas), it will be a different experience than Spring 2020, Nordquist said. Teachers will get extra training in online instruction and they'll put all students assignments in one place, which will keep everyone on track if the state goes into lockdown again, she said.
Finally, the district offers Bend-La Pine Online (the Connected option) which is open to students of all ages. BLPS has been running the program since 2006 and students remain engaged with teachers in the district. This could be an option for students who don't want to return to campus until there is a COVID-19 vaccine or who need a more flexible schedule.
"We hope that you will join us as we collectively think outside the box and embrace a level of change to our education system that continues to be unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes," Nordquist wrote.