RAINIER — With a month left to go until school starts, Rainier School officials say they hope to offer parents choices, but they revealed Monday night that a majority of parents favor in-person learning.
Interim Superintendent Joseph Hattrick told the school board that a survey of nearly 400 parents found that 53% want school to be in person, while 31% preferred virtual classes and 15% were not sure.
Board member Elizabeth Richardson said it felt like “we’re trying to build a school year on sand right now.”
Oregon Governor Kate Brown released rules for reopening schools earlier this week. To reopen in person, counties must record 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 people over three weeks.
Hattrick said Columbia County is close to that standard with several weeks left to go before school starts in September. Plans for hybrid, remote and in-person learning are all moving ahead, he said.
“The ideal is to have a menu of options. To have those parents who are really interested in being back on campus to do that safely, understanding (the mask requirement) is out of our control at this point,” he said.
He also wants to continue to make an online option available as well as a more parent-directed “homeschool” option with paper packets, Hattrick said.
“Yes, there will be a lot of challenges but I think we can overcome the challenges to truly do what’s best for every single person,” Hattrick said.
The draft plan outlined a virtual program of between two and four days of learning, with weekly lesson plans, videos and some online programs, as well as tutoring available throughout the day.
In-person would also be between two and four days per week and would include daily early releases for teachers to have professional development in the afternoons, Hattrick said.
He said he is planning more meetings with teachers, parents and students to discuss the plan and will present the plan formally to the board Aug. 10.
Board member Elaine Placido said it seems like the district needs to be prepared to “bounce in and out” of learning modes, but Hattrick said he wanted to make sure learning is not disrupted. He said routine is important, and he wants parents to plan long-term so “we’re not uprooting” family routines.
In other businesses, the board and Hattrick chose their top five priorities for the superintendent operating agreement, an Oregon School Boards Association document that sets clear expectations.
The board focused on communication. Members said they want Hattrick to focus on providing data and appropriate information to the board, as well as follow-up information on concerns, communicating promptly and effectively and being visible in the community.
Hattrick asked that the board recognize him as the educational leader of the district; abide by its own rules, policies and code of ethical conduct; fosters unity, harmony and open communications within the board; avoids surprising each other with items at board meetings; and has integrity of the highest order.
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