An Oregon middle school is responding to issues caused by students being away from in-person learning by sending everybody home for three weeks of remote learning.
Reynolds Middle School in Fairview, which is about 14 miles from Portland, said it needs the time to develop “necessary social-emotional supports” and “safety protocols” that will “provide a safe learning environment for all students,” according to superintendent Danna Diaz.
“The shifts in learning methods and isolation caused by COVID-19 closures and quarantines have taken a toll on the well-being of our students and staff,” Diaz wrote in a letter to families and staff Tuesday to justify the abrupt decision, according to Fox News.
“We are finding that some students are struggling with the socialization skills necessary for in-person learning, which is causing disruption in school for other students.”
District spokesperson Steve Padilla said fights and other behavioral issues were the reason for the pause in in-person learning.
“It’s not just fighting,” he said, according to The Oregonian. “It’s disruptive behaviors as well — students are disrupting other students, making it hard for them to learn.”
Padilla framed the district’s action as a pro-active step to head off more incidents.
“We need to take care of this now,” he said. “It’s urgent.”
Reynolds Middle School had been doing in-person learning this fall after a year of remote learning during the COVID pandemic.
When in-person learning resumes the week of Dec. 7, each grade level will have one day in the building before the school returns to fully normal operations on Dec. 10.
Padilla added that the district is acting swiftly because it doesn’t want to wait for the next incident to occur.
“The safety and security of our students, families, and staff is our highest priority,” Diaz wrote to parents, per Fox News. “This priority is even more significant as we continue to navigate a global health crisis which required schools to provide distance learning in the spring of 2020, then slowly move into hybrid in-person and distance learning in the spring of 2021, and finally move back into full in-person learning this fall.”
I gave talk in Pediatric Grand Rounds this am at UCSF which made me look more deeply at the history of school closures for infectious diseases in US. School closures were ALWAYS last resort & only happened for raging infections (esp those worse for kids than adults like measles) pic.twitter.com/Fqp7RCnQJi
— Monica Gandhi MD, MPH (@MonicaGandhi9) November 16, 2021
“It sucks,” Hines said. “We’re just getting back to going back to school and now we got to go right back to heading home. They’re not really learning anything because they don’t have enough time to learn anything.”
Magdalena Camarena, another parent, said she fails to see the benefit of the school’s action.
“I think it’s illogical that the school is closing for behavioral problems when the pandemic affected it so much last year,” Camarena said.
“The kids are now in a lower level, and right now there’s chaos in the district.”
Teachers and the teachers’ union have indicated they are not coping well.
“It’s serious out there, and we need help,” said Reynolds Education Association president Lisa Griffith, who advocated the option of online learning for some students.
“Even our calmest schools are stressed. Teachers across the district are exhausted, demoralized; they are in survival mode.”
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