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New State Rules for Return to Learning On-Site

New state rules for opening school doors to students for on-site learning • School year will start online    

We have an update to share about plans for returning to learning in the coming school year.

On July 28 the State of Oregon issued new rules for opening schools to in-person instruction, requiring a consistently low rate of new COVID cases. Neither Lane County nor the state are currently meeting those low rates of new infection. Many school districts in Oregon now are changing their plans to start the year with online learning.

Eugene School District 4J is already planning to start the school year online for at least the first four weeks, to build a strong foundation for remote teaching and learning, with some on-site school days for our youngest students in the first weeks of school if possible. 4J is committed to offering every child a high-quality education, five days a week, with daily contact from our dedicated teachers.

We continue to plan for all students to return to school buildings with a hybrid or blend of on-site and online instruction during the 2020–21 school year, once public health conditions improve and all appropriate health and safety measures are in place.

It is possible that our students’ return to school buildings will be delayed until we see a consistently lower rate of new cases in our county.

In order for schools to reopen for in-person instruction for all grades, both the state and county must meet the new required COVID-19 test baseline numbers. We were at these rates in Lane County in May and June, but are not meeting them now. They are our new community-wide goal:

10 or fewer positive cases per 100,000 population in Lane County in the preceding week, for three weeks in a row. Lane County has been above this threshold throughout July.

Positive results in 5% or less of COVID-19 tests in Lane County and in Oregon in the preceding week, for three weeks in a row. This is currently being met in Lane County but not statewide.

For schools to open their doors for students in grades K–3, the new rules have a different threshold, 30 or fewer new cases per 100,000 population. The state notes that children under 10 have been shown to get the virus at lower rates, get less sick, and spread the virus less than older students and adults. The district is examining the nuances of this new provision and will keep families updated on any revised plans for K–3 students.

To families who have been hesitant about a return to in-person instruction in the midst of a pandemic, it may be a relief to have clear, consistent, evidence-based metrics and strict standards developed by doctors and health experts at the Oregon Health Authority, working with education experts at the Oregon Department of Education and the Early Learning Division, guiding when schools may resume on-site learning with extensive health and safety precautions.

Families who prefer 100% online learning, with no on-site learning at all, may choose the Eugene Online Academy—please complete the interest form by August 10.

We also understand that any delay in returning to on-site learning, based on these metrics and our local public health data, will be a disappointment to many students and families who have been anticipating a return to school buildings and some semblance of normalcy.

Our priorities remain the health and safety of our students, staff and families, and our students’ academic growth and social emotional wellbeing.

We invite you to join us for an online information session at one of the following times:
• Thursday, August 6, 5:30–6:30 p.m. — Zoom link
• Tuesday, August 11, 2:00–3:00 p.m. — Zoom link

In the meantime, you will find the answers to many questions about returning to learning in 4J schools in the Frequently Asked Questions posted on the district website. New questions and answers will be added over time.

We will continue to share updates with families as new information develops.

Thank you for your continued patience, grace and understanding as we navigate the challenges of this pandemic together. Online or on-site, Eugene School District 4J will provide the best education and care we can for all of our students.

– Cydney Vandercar
Interim Superintendent
Eugene School District 4J 



More Information

4J Plan for Returning to Learning in Fall 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Eugene Online Academy: Grades K–12
Eugene Online Academy Interest Form

Updated Oregon Guidance for 2020–21 School Restart

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