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The St. Helens School District will begin the new school year on September 8.

Back To School

A letter has been sent to St. Helens School District parents announcing the start date and detailed information about the school district's Distance Learning plans for high school and all district students.

The first day will include parent-teacher conferences for families to meet teachers and explain the instructional model and digital tools.

A letter has been sent to St. Helens School District parents announcing the start date and detailed information about the school district's Distance Learning plans.

"Our goal is for families to have control and choice about the best “school” option for their child," the letter states. "Families may choose between a Hybrid Model and a distance learning option called the St. Helens Virtual Academy."

The letter tells parents that the district is anticipating the Hybrid option will start in the Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) mode due to the Oregon Health Authority re-opening infection rate guidelines.

St. Helens school officials are also responding to parents concerns through an electronic question and answer page.

The following is a sampling of the questions from parents with responses from the school district.

When will we know when school sports will be available for students?

St. Helens School District reply: The OSAA announced a delayed start to sports on July 22, prior to the Governor’s metrics for safely reopening schools. It is our understanding that the OSAA Executive Board will meet next week and make an announcement on how they plan to make adjustments to athletic seasons. Once we have that information we will share it with our families.

In the school board meeting Lori mentioned that NWESD has FM systems for the deaf and hard of hearing kids, what about the kids that rely on lip reading and FM systems. Will shields be provided for people in their pod/ teachers or will these kids be kinda left to figure it out?

St. Helens School District reply: The St. Helens School District has purchased 500 face shields to assure each staff member has a couple on hand to help support our students that are hard of hearing and for lessons that require students to see a teachers face such as when teaching phonemic awareness.

If kids are in pods , how will kids who are not on grade level learn when the rest of the class is on grade level? And if they have electives that the other kids don’t choose isn’t mixing pods counterproductive?

St. Helens School District reply: Students in “pods” or “cohorts” will be grouped by grade level at the elementary level and middle school level. High School cohorts become significantly more complex. During any regular school year, students of varying degrees of ability, from below grade level to well above, are in the same class. When we begin our Hybrid Model, after our county has met the reopening schools metrics, cohorts will be under 15 students per class allowing for better one on one attention for those students that may be struggling. We are also reserving Fridays for interventions and support of those students needing extra help.

Yes, mixing cohorts is counterproductive to some degree. It is impossible to open a comprehensive high school without mixing cohorts. The guidance we have received is to keep the total number of students in a cohorts to under 100 students. The following key principles provided by ODE and Public Health guide our protocols for reducing exposure. If one is compromised, then we need to make sure the others are effectively implemented. For example, if cohorts are not as stable as we want, then we need to make sure protective equipment and cleaning is strong.

Follow the Back to School developments here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.

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