Five years in, iPads fully integrated in Bend-La Pine schools

Loudyn Hudson uses an iPad to reference a map during an eighth-grade social studies class at Cascade Middle School in Bend on Dec. 6, 2018. 

Most students in Bend-La Pine and Crook County schools will start remotely in the fall, the districts announced Friday.

For Bend-La Pine schools, all students will be online for at least six weeks. For Crook County, grades K-3 are still planned to be in person, but all other students will take classes remotely.

The Bend-La Pine School Board voted unanimously Friday to move at least the first six weeks of classes to the comprehensive distance education for all students. The district will reevaluate the situation every six weeks to decide if classes can return in person.

During the meeting, board members reviewed COVID-19 case data from Deschutes County Public Health.

Public Health Services Manager Heather Kaisner compared the county’s numbers with new state requirements for opening in-person classes.

“We unfortunately are not meeting any of those at this point,” Kaisner told the board. “Unfortunately, our case rate continues to go up.”

After discussing the metrics and the options for online classes, the board settled on moving the start of school to Sept. 14 from Sept. 9 to give district staff three extra days to prepare for online classes. That won’t change the timing of the end of the year, Superintendent Lora Nordquist told the board.

Since the state’s metrics are based on three-week increments, the district settled on six-week blocks to evaluate the county’s progress and provide teachers the chance to adapt their curriculum in blocks.

“Unless things rapidly change in the next six weeks, we’re not going to hit our metrics,” board member Amy Tatom said before eventually making the motion for the change.

In Crook County, the state’s new metrics were also the reason for the changes.

The district might have to change plans again and move the younger grades back to online classes, depending on how Crook County falls within the state’s metrics, it said in a news release.

District leaders will reevaluate case data on the 15th of every month to determine if schools can reopen in-person or if younger students need to move online.

The district says it’s retooling its online learning options based on feedback from the spring, and will be offering a guided homeschool program for students in grades K-8 for parents who want to teach their own students with resources from the district.

Both districts followed the lead of the Redmond School District, which announced earlier this week that students would attend online only until at least November.

Zack Demars reports for The Bulletin through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism.

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