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Back-to-Buildings Update – Jan. 20

A message from Superintendent Cydney Vandercar 

Dear 4J families, we want to keep you up to date with the latest information, including updates on:

  • Public health metrics
  • Hybrid learning model
  • Limited in-person instruction
  • COVID vaccines

Public Health Metrics and Measures

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has announced updates to the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance and advisory health metrics for returning to in-person learning in a hybrid on-site learning model. All of the current guidance documents are available online at www.oregon.gov/ode

The most significant change was to the advisory health metrics, which have now been aligned to Harvard Global Health Institute recommendations. The new metrics allow for school districts to decide to reopen school buildings in a hybrid model at higher levels of community case rates than previously recommended. 

Revised advisory public health metrics, in a nutshell: Models and metrics under Oregon's revised advisory public health metrics for schools

District leadership is exploring the changes that were received just yesterday, digging into the details of the updated state guidance and considering how it may impact our district’s plans for a return to in-person learning in 4J. Please watch for further updates to come.

Aside from changes to the health metrics, most elements of the Ready School Safe Learners guidance remain the same. These include requirements for physical distancing, face coverings, small cohorts of students, and more. 

To learn more about our 4J schools’ safety plans and get a deeper understanding of the measures that will be in place when students return to buildings, please see the district’s Communicable Disease Management Plan

Ready Schools, Safe Learners Guidance
Public Health Metrics for School Reopening
Harvard Global Health Institute Recommendations
COVID-19 Communicable Disease Management Plan

Hybrid Model 

Eugene School District 4J has been preparing for hybrid on-site instruction since last summer, with a careful eye on local public health conditions, which influence when and how our school buildings may reopen. Weekly updates on local COVID rates are posted on this district website.

Many parents will be aware that the district has been planning to phase in hybrid on-site learning when public health conditions warrant. The hybrid model might have begun as early as February 1 for the youngest elementary grades if COVID conditions had improved by the week of January 18. 

Local COVID case rates are still high and rising. The hybrid on-site/online model will not begin on February 1. The district will continue distance learning at this time. 

Please watch for further updates to come, including how the revised guidance from the state may impact our planning in 4J. Families will be notified at least about two weeks in advance before the hybrid model is to begin. 

Local Coronavirus Metrics Weekly Updates

Limited In-Person Instruction and Supports

Oregon schools engaged in distance learning may provide some limited, targeted supports for students on-site. 4J schools have been providing some on-site supports for a small number of students since the fall, and will increase this to a larger but still limited number of students in the coming weeks. 

Students have been selected for limited in-person instruction and supports based on multiple measures, including access, academic, and social emotional needs. Families whose students qualify to be offered targeted in-person supports will be contacted directly about their options.


COVID-19 vaccines for school staff are coming soon. 

Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown renewed her commitment to prioritizing K–12 education staff for vaccinations and announced that eligibility would begin January 25. The district is collaborating with Lane County Public Health and healthcare partners on plans to vaccinate educators when vaccines become available.

At this time, there are two highly effective vaccines approved for use in the United States, and others in development. Public health sources show that the available vaccines are thoroughly tested, very safe and extremely effective. 

Vaccines are available only to certain groups right now because there is currently a limited supply, but supply will increase in the coming months. It will take some time before every Oregonian who wants to be vaccinated can get their two shots. 

Vaccines are not yet generally available for families, except for frontline healthcare workers and others who are currently eligible in Phase 1A of Oregon’s vaccination rollout plan. There is currently no vaccine approved for children under 16, but studies are underway.

The district will continue to share information about COVID testing and vaccines when available.

COVID Vaccine FAQs
Oregon COVID Vaccine Information

Thank You 

Thank you for your continued engagement and support throughout this challenging time. 

We recognize that each family situation is unique and that some families are eager for students to return to in-person learning, while others are concerned about making this change too soon. 

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

Online or on-site, Eugene School District 4J will continue to provide the best education and care we can for all of our students. 


– Cydney Vandercar
Interim Superintendent
Eugene School District 4J


Learn More

Previous Updates:
Return to In-Person Learning Updates
Planning for Hybrid Learning in New Year

More Information: 
State Metrics for Hybrid Return
Current Case Rates by County
How to Protect Yourself & Others
Health & Safety for On-Site Learning
4J Return to Learning FAQs 

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