COVID-19 Pandemic Information

UPDATE: March 3rd, 2021


Dear Families,


This morning, Governor Brown published Executive Order 21-06, which orders public school districts and charter schools to offer fully On-site or Hybrid in-person instruction. The Order continues the requirement of all schools (public and private) to comply with guidance issued by ODE and OHA, including the health and safety protocols outlined in  Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance.


ODE will release updated Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance late Monday or early Tuesday of next week, with additional updates to supplemental guidance following later in the week.


Needless to say this is a tight timeline to open and a slow roll out for receiving the much needed updated guidance. We have been in meetings all week with ODE, superintendents around the state and charter leadership. Cottonwood is prepared and ready to move forward and pivot as called for.


I would like to begin by addressing the safety concerns of our playground and facility due to chemical munitions being used regularly during ICE protests next door. As many of you know on February 1st I wrote a letter to ICE, requesting DHS/ICE to immediately commit to stopping all spraying/release of tear gas or chemical munitions in our neighborhood. Since doing so we have implemented a pressure campaign, reached out and aligned with neighbors in the South Waterfront and broader community and brought awareness to the concern through local news, social media, phone calls and letter writing. In response, others have written letters of support and in alliance: Senators Wyden and Merkley, State Representatives Bonamici and Bloomenauer, Commissioner Sharon Meieran, State Representative Lisa Reynolds and State Senator Ginny Burdick, Chief Executive officer of REACH Daniel Valliere and more. This week we have heard of stirrings that ICE/DHS is working to respond to our letters. We appreciate all the efforts to advocate for the school and encourage each of you to continue making phone calls and getting the word out.


Today we signed a contract with a certified industrial hygienist from Forensic Analytical Consulting Services. They will manage the project of further evaluating potential contamination of the school campus with residues from chemical crowd-control munitions used on or near the school property, develop corrective actions, as needed, to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and community and develop a crowd-control munitions response plan in case of future impacts to the campus. The project will conclude with a town hall meeting for our community presented by the senior certified industrial hygienist from Forensic Analytical.


We hope to have preliminary answers and a professionally cleaned interior by March 26th and a completed report the week of April 5th. We are unsure if the playground will be usable this year. The process of assuring a clean and safe school campus due to chemical crowd-control munitions in our neighborhood will supersede the Governor’s order to open K-5 by March 29th. This schedule change has been approved by the Oregon Department of Education. It is our intention to have staff back in the building on March 29th for training and preparation, begin meeting with children off site the week of April 5th, and begin our Hybrid model on site the week of April 12th.


In light of Governor Brown’s recent executive order requiring schools to offer in-person learning to all and feedback from both staff and families, we are excited to share our newly revised hybrid instruction model. This model, developed in response to our survey, allows for 90% of our school children to participate in some form of in-person school activity that feels safe to them! In addition we are looking forward to the opportunity to have in-person time on site with students whose parents choose to participate in the hybrid model.


As described above, we cannot open our building to students until any needed contamination cleanup is completed.  Instead of returning to school as planned on March 30th, we will be using that week to prepare our building, train staff on Covid protocols  and plan for the change in instructional model while we wait for the building contamination report.  We will not be extending the school year to make up these days but rather will add back two days that were previously no school days- April 9th and May 7th.



Start Dates


  • Week of March 29th- No school for students while we await the final results of the building contamination report and teachers plan a shift to hybrid instruction.
  • Week of April 5th- All grades remain in distance learning with the addition of social meet ups at the park.  Kinder and new student building tours will be offered during this week as long as the building is cleared for students.
  • Week of April 12th- Hybrid on-site learning begins at all grades, and outdoor social meetups continue.


In our new model,  mornings and Wednesdays will remain online and be the same for all students regardless of which schedule you choose.



K-8 Morning Schedule and Wednesdays for all students, Hybrid or Distance Learning. – Mornings and Wednesdays will remain fully online, similar to the current distance learning, with some shifts in small group times.



What outdoor education options are available?


  • Weekly meetups are available in partnership with Portland Parks.
  • K-5 Park Meetups Weekly teacher-led outdoor education meet-ups, Thursday (K-5) 1-3:15.
  • 6-8 Park Meetups Weekly teacher-led outdoor education meet-ups, Fridays from 9-1.



Why this model?


We believe this model provides the most equitable access to core academic instruction for all students, provides the most consistency for students and is more sustainable for teachers. Here are the main reasons:


  • Students, overall, have gotten the hang of participating in academic classes in the mornings on Zoom, so continuing to provide their core academic classes through distance learning keeps that instruction consistent for all students.
  • Our survey results indicated that 73% of our families were satisfied with remaining in CDL. Only 27% of our families preferred a hybrid model.
  • When looking at our BIPOC, Special Ed. and Free and Reduced Lunch students, their results either agreed with the community as a whole or leaned more strongly toward a distance learning model, adding further support to a model with a stronger distance learning piece.
  • This model provides outdoor park meetups for all grades which was a preferred way of gathering safely in person for over 90% of students.
  • This model gives us flexibility to provide additional support beyond these baseline amounts for students who may need additional time on-site.
  • This model eliminates the need for live streaming instruction, an approach that was not favored by our teachers or many families and requires a learning curve that doesn’t make sense with the small amount of time left in the school year.


Some additional details:


Health/Safety Protocols: CSCS will strictly adhere to the health/safety protocols outlined in the state’s Ready School Safe Learners guidance, including visual symptom screening  on entry for students, daily symptom reporting for all staff, hand hygiene, masks for everyone and contact tracing where needed.


  • All staff and students will be required to wear masks that cover mouths and noses at all times, even when outside.
  • All protocols will be posted on the school website.
  • Students who become symptomatic or report feeling unwell at school will be monitored in a separate health room and parents will need to pick them up within the hour.
  • Teachers will spend time with students prior to the start of hybrid reviewing safety practices.
  • All classrooms will be equipped with air purifiers  See FAQ for more details on ventilation.


We are all so excited to be together again!


Amanda & Susan


Communications from The Cottonwood School



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