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UPDATE: January 4, 2021
We are really looking forward to the new year and we hope it will be a happy, healthy one for us all!
We realize some of you may be wondering where Cottonwood stands after Governor Kate Brown’s December 23rd announcement. Please know we have been working diligently on readying our school for reopening since last spring. It is a many layered and ever changing process, but we have kept up while also keeping student learning, mental health and engagement as our top priority. As a state sponsored charter school we are our own district and just as we have done since last March, will be making decisions that work best for our school community, our staffing and our facility. As a small school we often can be more nimble than a larger district, but we also have some constraints that a larger district does not. We are working hard within our bumpers to get our students back to in-person instruction with safety at the heart of the work!
The governor has made the metrics advisory, but all the protocol for safely returning to in-person instruction remains mandatory. Oregon is a big state with counties in many different situations. Changing the metrics from mandatory to advisory will help some schools open safely sooner. The Governor and Oregon Department of Education are asking us to work with all stakeholders, including Oregon Health Authority, to determine when and how to safely open. We will do so cautiously and we have many checkpoints from different stakeholders along the way. Governor Brown has set a goal post for opening all Oregon elementary schools by February 15th. Some communities in our state will meet this mark and others may not.
Here is what we are currently considering before re-opening:
When we begin to reopen to in-person instruction it will be a cautious rollout. As research supports, we will begin with our youngest grades, K-3rd in a hybrid model, meaning that half of the students will be learning at school while the other half will learn from home. In this model, students will attend full days in stable cohorts of 11 to 12 students at a time for 2 days each week. As we get our feet under us we will add more grades. Currently we are required to provide 35 square feet of space per student which means in our facility a hybrid model is our only in-person option.
We will have an update for you in late January.
To a Happy & Healthy New Year!
Amanda McAdoo, Director
Cottonwood School will continue to monitor the situation daily and share our plans for the 20.21 school year as they evolve.
We will be regularly checking in with our current families by email and we are currently creating a schedule for virtual whole school and classroom meetings. We will be hosting a virtual, whole school Back-to-School Night before school starts. This will be an opportunity to meet all current teachers and staff, welcome new families, ask questions and learn more about the 20.21 school year.
School will begin on September 8th, 2020. All Cottonwood students will participate in an online learning model from September 8th until at least November 27, which is the end of the first trimester.
It is possible that, unless COVID-19 conditions improve significantly, online learning will extend into the second trimester and perhaps beyond. We will assess all available public health information and county and state metrics to help make decisions about reopening our school campus. When Oregon and Multnomah County meet the metrics set by the state, Cottonwood will prepare to transition to our hybrid model which will bring students into the building two days a week in cohorts of 11-12 students per class. We hope to make transitions in alignment with our trimester blocks to create continuity in teaching and learning. We will communicate our plans no later than October 30, and again no later than March 1st respectively.
We are working diligently to put into place detailed health and safety protocols for the 20.21 school year. These will be approved by the Oregon Health Authority and submitted to the Oregon Department of Education before the school building reopens to students.