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April 1st Closure Update - Distance Learning for All
April 1st Closure Update - Distance Learning for All
Lane Tompkins
Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Dear McKenzie Community,

Late Monday night the Department of Education released new guidance that was a strong pivot from its previous direction to Districts. Oregon is now embracing “Distance Learning For All.” Under this new model, Oregon schools will be required to provide remote instruction to students by April 13th. This instruction will be graded and may earn high school students credit. This new tack was a bit of a surprise for districts around the state as it marks a big change of direction from the original call to provide optional, ungraded, review materials to keep students engaged in learning and academic tasks. Although there has been no official announcement, the Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, Colt Gill shared with districts “we… foresee the strong possibility that our students may not come back through our school house doors this academic year.” It is in that light that Oregon will now begin distance learning.

Although this new guidance came as a surprise, it should have a minimal impact on McKenzie’s plans to serve our students.  We have been planning and anticipating potential scenarios for the past several weeks and now that we have received a clear direction, we will put our plans into motion. Teaching staff have reported back to work remotely on March 30th. We focused this week on wrapping up courses currently underway in order to allow students to gain credit and grades for those courses that were originally to end this week. Staff members have reached out to families and students to check in and inquire about technology needs as a follow up to our Connectivity Survey put out the week of March 8th. Using that information we are making plans to get devices into homes that need them. Next week, we will focus on supporting families and students in gaining familiarity with devices and the Google Classroom platform. It is our hope to have teaching staff available for “Office Hours” during that time. The following week, we will continue to connect with students digitally or by phone and print options to distribute supplemental learning activities until our Distance Learning Program is in full swing the week of April 13th. This will give our staff the vital time necessary to learn and grow their skills in supporting distance learning. Seniors and their families will hear from an administrator as soon as the state provides us with clear graduation requirement guidance. We appreciate your patience; please know that McKenzie and the Department of Education are working hard to support you all in gaining your diploma and transitioning onto your next steps of college and career.

As Deputy Superintendent Gill stated in his guidance, “this effort will call on all our creativity and talents as well as deep partnership with families to reach all students to provide care, connection, and continuity of learning.”  We are all McKenzie, and we look forward to partnering with you more closely than ever before in supporting your student. These next few steps forward may not be perfect or smooth at times, and we are open to feedback as open collaboration is a key to strong partnerships.  

As you’ve seen over the past few weeks, this is a quickly evolving situation and plans change rapidly in response. We appreciate your continued patience during these hectic times. 

Please check our Distance Learning website bit.ly/mkzdistancelearning for resources to support your efforts at home. 

Stay Home, Save Lives and wash your hands!

    

Lane Tompkins

Superintendent/Principal

McKenzie School District & McKenzie River Community School