Home » Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic » Back to School: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Back to School: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Eugene School District 4J is back to school. To help keep families informed about 4J students’ return to school during the coronavirus pandemic, this FAQ answers some questions that the district has received.

We know there are many more questions and information is always evolving. This FAQ will be updated over time.

Learning Location
Supports for Learning
Health & Safety

Learning Location

Q: When will students return to school buildings for on-site learning? 

Eugene School District 4J is pleased to be welcoming students back to school in-person at the start of the school year in fall 2021.

Classrooms will look more similar to how they were before the pandemic, but with health and safety protocols in place including 3 feet of physical distancing to the extent possible and face masks required for all students and staff, following both a state requirement and recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Parents who do not want their student to wear a face mask should request to enroll in online learning.

Q: What is the school schedule for on-site learning?

Schools are resuming their regular schedules with students on-site full-time, five days a week. The elementary school schedule is either 7:55 a.m.–2:25 p.m. or 8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m. The middle school day is 9:00 a.m.–3:35 p.m., and the high school day is 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Friday is an early release day at all schools. For school-specific details such as passing periods and lunch times, check your school’s website or contact your school.

School Schedules
District Calendar

Q: What options are offered for families who prefer online learning? 

The district recognizes that each family’s situation is unique and some are not yet ready for their students to return to the classroom in-person this fall. The state of Oregon requires school districts to plan for full-time on-site learning, but allows districts to also offer online learning options if they choose.

4J is offering two distance learning options for the 2021–22 school year:

4J K–5 Connect

• Elementary school: 4J K–5 Connect — Online classroom learning on a set schedule, with a teacher and classmates in an online classroom. Each school day will include a combination of real-time teaching and independent learning, including PE and music. The school day is planned from 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m., Monday–Friday (1:45 p.m. early release on Fridays).

• All grades: Eugene Online Academy (EOA) — Independent, asynchronous learning on a flexible schedule and regular check-ins with 4J teachers.

Families were invited to submit a request by August 23 for students to learn online this fall. Requests received by August 23 will be accommodated if possible. Later requests may be accepted if space is available. The waitlist is open to ongoing requests now.

4J K–5 Connect
Eugene Online Academy
Waitlist Request for Online Learning Enrollment

Q: Are specific school programs offered online?

4J’s online learning programs will be districtwide in 2021–22, with fewer online students than last year. Online learning will not be linked to individual 4J schools, nor will it offer special programs such as language immersion, AVID or IHS. The Eugene Online Academy does offer AP classes.

These programs are entirely online and will not provide in-person offerings such as Outdoor School, although an online program may be provided.

Q: Will my student be paired with a teacher and other students from their regular school? 

No. 4J K–5 Connect and Eugene Online Academy are not connected with your regular school. Groupings of students and teachers will balance teacher availability with enrollment by grade level and course registration. 

Q: Can a student change back and forth between learning options or must they enroll for the full year? 

Students enrolled in 4J’s online learning programs who wish to return to their regular school will be allowed to do so at the normal transition times such as the end of the trimester or semester or at the end of the year. This will provide the least amount of disruption to student learning and allow the system to adjust class sizes and assignments. Some requests may be accommodated at other times if space is available.

Q: If my student enrolls in online learning, will they lose their place at the school they regularly attend?

If a student enrolls in 4J K–5 Connect or the Eugene Online Academy this year, they can later return to the school they were previously attending without needing to reapply for school choice.

If you enroll your student in a different school or district, or withdraw to homeschool, you may later request to return to your student’s previous school through the district’s school choice process. 

Q: What options are available other than 4J’s on-site and online learning options?  

A family may opt to unenroll from their 4J school to home school, attend a private or charter school, or enroll in an online/virtual learning school other than 4J K–5 Connect or Eugene Online Academy. If you want to homeschool your child, contact Lane Education Service District and they will guide you on the process for enrolling in homeschool options. If you are interested in a virtual charter school outside of 4J, please be aware that the district has reached the 3% cap on virtual charter school enrollment at this time. 

Students who have unenrolled from 4J are not provided with student technology or other services provided to all 4J students. If the student has been attending a 4J school via a school choice transfer, or if they live outside the district and have been attending on an interdistrict transfer, by enrolling in a different school they will relinquish their transfer. The student can always re-enroll in their neighborhood school when they are ready, but in order to re-enroll in an alternative school or a neighborhood school other than the one associated with their residence, they will need to apply again for a school choice transfer (or interdistrict transfer). 

Homeschool Enrollment
Virtual Charter Schools
4J School Choice Process

Q: Will students or schools return to online learning because of an outbreak or quarantine?

With COVID-19 persisting in our community, there will be cases of COVID that come to school. Each case will be responded to according to the circumstances, with the purpose being to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19 at school, while maximizing opportunities for on-site learning.

In some cases, this will require individual students to quarantine, or for a cohort to stay home while contact tracing is completed. It is possible that a cluster of cases or other circumstances could lead to an entire classroom being temporarily shifted to remote learning, or to a program or activity being suspended or canceled.

Families should remain flexible and prepared with back-up plans to support temporary learning from home in case their student is unable to attend school as planned. 
All 4J students have access to take-home technology devices to support remote learning as needed.

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Supports for Learning  

Q: Will school meals be provided? 

School meals will be available free for all students in 4J schools for the 2021–22 school year, regardless of family income.

4J students attending school on-site will be served breakfast and lunch at no cost. Dinner also will be served during some after-school programs.

Students enrolled in online learning, and other youth age 18 and younger who are not receiving meals at school, can sign up to get free weekly meal boxes at the district office.

School Meals Free for All
School Meal Menus and Nutrition
Sign Up for Weekly Meal Boxes

Q: Where will school meals be served? 

Meals may be served in the cafeteria, the classroom, or outdoors. Schools are encouraged to provide outdoor seating for meal times where feasible.

During class time, students may drink from a water bottle or eat snacks at a designated time, at the discretion of the school and teacher. If allowed, students would need to take a bite or sip and then replace their masks immediately.

Q: Will bus transportation be provided?

Bus transportation will be provided for students who qualify. Routes and stops have been adjusted due to a bus driver shortage, and changes and delays are possible. 

In order to transport all students, it will not be possible to maintain 3 feet of distancing on school buses. 

Families are encouraged to walk, bike, carpool or drive to school, if possible.

Q: Will students receive special education services?

Students receiving special education services will continue to receive accommodations and support, on-site and online. Families of students with IEPs may contact their case manager to discuss individual plans, needs and accommodations for the school year.

Q: Do families need to buy school supplies? 

In most years, families purchase school supplies at the start of the school year. This year, the school district is providing some standard school supplies for elementary and middle schools—such as pencils, erasers, washable markers, crayons, glue and scissors.

In general, there is no elementary school supply list to add to your shopping this year. The district is providing standard supplies to elementary schools for students to use at school. Your school may request students bring a personal backpack and water bottle, and some schools may request specific supplies in addition to those provided by the district.

For middle and high school students, follow information from your school about whether supplies are needed.

School Supply Lists

Q: What technology is provided for students to learn at school and at home? 

Every student is provided with a device for learning. Students in grades K–2 are provided iPads with protective cases, grades 3–8 are using iPads with keyboards, and high school students have received laptop computers. 

Student Learning Devices

Q: What are the rules for student technology?

The district has established expectations for students’ appropriate use of technology at school and during distance learning, including appropriate conduct and positive digital community membership, virtual meeting behavior, academic integrity, and student device responsibility and protection plan.

Technology Appropriate Use Guidelines

Q: How do I get help with my student’s technology?

You will find frequently requested technology tips and other resources to support students and parents with using their 4J student iPad or laptop and learning apps at 4j.lane.edu/tech-help . If you don’t find the answer to your question, you can request student tech support by submitting an online request or leaving a voicemail in English or Spanish.

Technology Help for Families
Request Tech Support / English voicemail 541-790-7770 / Mensaje en español 541-790-7531

Q: How do I get help with internet access?

For information about ways to access internet service, please see 4j.lane.edu/internet. The district is partnering to provide free high-speed internet access for families who qualify, and has hotspots available to lend to families who do not have another way to access the internet at home. If you are still unable to access online learning from home, please talk to your school.  

Internet Support for Families

Q: What learning management system is used for instruction? 

Learning management system (LMS) software provides a digital space for teaching and learning, including homework assignments, teacher communication and student collaboration—an online classroom. These learning management systems also allow parents to see everything their children are expected to learn and do, all in one place. 

Middle and high schools are using the Canvas platform for instruction online and on-site for hybrid learning. Elementary schools continue to use Seesaw as a platform for learning. The Eugene Online Academy uses a different system.

Canvas and Seesaw Information for Families
Parent Technology Training Sessions (Recorded Webinar)

Q: Will attendance be taken? 

Attendance will be taken for every class every day. Parents are sent a notification by phone and email if their student is marked absent in one or more classes. Parents with a Synergy ParentVUE login can check their student’s attendance record in ParentVUE.  

Q: Will students receive letter grades? 

Yes. Students will receive course grades and regular feedback on progress. High schools and middle schools provide letter grades (A, B, C, D, F). Students will have the option for P/NP grades as detailed in the course syllabus where appropriate.

(For emergency distance learning in spring 2020, the state of Oregon required that students be given pass/no-pass/incomplete grades for spring term courses. This applied only for a single term at the start of the pandemic. High schools and middle schools returned to providing letter grades in 2020–21.)

Q: Will students go on field trips? 

Field trips are not permitted at this time. In addition to COVID risk reduction, schools need to focus on in-person learning and supporting students’ re-entry to schools, and staffing shortages are impacting busing services.

The only exceptions of allowed field trips are walking field trips and Outdoor School. Walking field trips are limited to off-campus destinations (such as parks, nature trails, etc.) within 10 blocks of the school.

Q: Can volunteers provide support in schools? 

To reduce the risk of COVID exposure, only essential visitors and volunteers are permitted on-site at this time. Essential visitors and volunteers are defined as necessary for student safety, business operations or program provision, as determined by the director and building administrator.

Examples of volunteers that may be permitted, with principal and director approval, include volunteer athletic coaches and volunteers supporting student safety at dropoff, pickup and recess time. 

Volunteers supporting classrooms or providing clerical tasks in the school building currently are not allowed. 

The district does have many paid positions open for part-time school support. Parents and community members who want to help students, staff and schools are encouraged to consider open positions and apply: 4J Job Openings

Q: Can parents of students learning online participate in class Zooms?  

No. Like classroom instruction in school buildings, online class time is for students. While parents, guardians or caretakers may be nearby and helping support their students, no one but the student may participate in the Zoom meeting unless expressly invited by the teacher.

Parents and others may not interject or participate in classroom discussions or chats, or otherwise engage during class. If a student’s parent is disruptive to the learning environment, the teacher may disable the student’s video and audio or remove them from the class meeting and report the disruption to the school principal.

Q: Is there childcare available? 

Eugene School District 4J provides space for before- and after-school care offered by community providers in many elementary schools. Check with your school for details, and contact the providers to enroll in childcare or to ask about financial assistance.

The Employment-Related Day Care program (ERDC) helps eligible low-income families pay for childcare while they are working. ERDC is a subsidy program, meaning eligible families still pay part of the childcare cost.

Employment Related Day Care Assistance

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Health and Safety  

Q: Will staff and students be required to wear face masks at school?

Yes, for everyone’s protection, face coverings are required for everyone in schools. The CDC advises that the use of face coverings is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools and communities.

Students and staff must wear face coverings properly at all times while indoors and on buses, as well as outdoors when 6 feet of physical distance can’t be maintained. This is a statewide requirement. 

Masks must be worn to get on the bus or come into school. If a student gets to school or the bus stop without their mask, they will be provided with a disposable one. If a student will not wear a face mask properly they will be sent home from school or, if on the bus, may lose bus riding privileges.

Parents who do not want their student to wear a face mask should request to enroll in online learning, or contact the Lane Education Service District to register their student if they prefer to homeschool.

Face Mask Requirements
Request Online Learning
Register to Homeschool

Q: What kinds of face coverings are allowed? 

Face masks must be an effective design. Not allowed are gaiters, bandanas, masks with vents, valves or holes, or face shields alone (face shields may be worn in addition to masks).

Face masks should fit snugly and must be worn properly, covering the nose, mouth and chin at all times.

Families are encouraged to pack an extra mask or two in their student’s backpack in case it’s needed. If you need a face covering provided for your student, ask your school.

Q: When can face masks be removed?

Face coverings may be removed only when guided by school staff, at certain limited times such as meals or outdoor activities when at least 6 feet of distance can be maintained. Other “mask breaks” will not be provided indoors.

Q: Will staff be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Vaccination is our most effective tool in building a wall between us and the virus. 4J staff members are required to be fully vaccinated by the state deadline of October 18. The district provided mass vaccination clinics for staff as soon as COVID-19 vaccines became available, and has worked to make vaccines readily available for all staff, students, families and community members since then.

Q: Will students be vaccinated against COVID-19?

Students and families are encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when eligible, but vaccination is not currently required for students to attend school. Vaccines are currently available for students age 12 and older. Large-scale testing is underway for younger ages, and authorization of vaccines for youth under 12 is expected this fall or winter. The district is partnering with community healthcare partners to ensure vaccines are readily available to all 4J students and families.

Q: Will there be physical distancing at school?

Schools will maintain at least 3 feet of physical distancing between students to the extent possible, consistent with advice from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Desks will be placed to space students at least 3 feet apart where classrooms allow. Students should stay in their assigned seats and keep their distance as much as possible at other times, such as entering or leaving school and walking in hallways. Schools may have dots on the floor and directional arrows to help students stay apart.

Outdoors, if face masks are removed, 6 feet of distancing must be maintained at this time.

On school buses, distancing is preferred, but it will not be possible to transport all eligible students and consistently maintain physical distancing of 6 feet (the definition for “close contact” outside of in-school settings) or 3 feet (the target for in-school settings).

Q: Will students and staff stay home when they’re sick?

To help everyone at school stay healthy, students and staff need to be healthy when they come to school. Parents and guardians should perform a daily health evaluation before sending students to school. If your student is feeling unwell, or if they or anyone in their home has symptoms of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases, they need to stay at home.

Symptoms that should keep a student home include fever (100.4º or higher), chills, cough, headache, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, diarrhea and vomiting. If your student has any of these symptoms, please keep them at home and call your school’s attendance line.

If your student has been diagnosed or exposed to COVID-19, or is waiting for test results to check on COVID symptoms, please keep them home and notify your school, including any important details. Students who are absent for COVID-related reasons must tell the school and stay home and not participate in any school related events or activities until their parent is contacted by the school district COVID team and the student is clearedto return.

If a student becomes ill or appears to be showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while at school, they will be moved to the school’s designated isolation area (care room) and monitored by school staff until their parent, guardian or emergency contact arrives to take them home.

Self-Screening: Stay Home When Sick

COVID-19 Exclusion Summary Chart provided by Oregon Department of Education. Follow the link for a screen-readable PDF.


Q: Are students and staff regularly tested for COVID-19? 

Screening testing is a routine COVID-19 check for people who do not have symptoms and are not known to have been exposed to COVID-19. Voluntary weekly testing is available at no cost for students and staff in 4J schools. Testing is provided by programs supported by the Oregon Health Authority. The University of Oregon also offers routine screening testing to the community at no cost; pre-registration is recommended.

Diagnostic testing used when a person develops symptoms or is exposed to COVID-19. Testing is available from many community providers. Lane County Public Health maintains current information about available testing on its website.

Sign Up for Weekly COVID-19 Screening Testing
Register or Drop In for a COVID-19 Screening Test
Where to Get a COVID-19 Diagnostic Test

Q: How can ventilation systems help? 

Outdoor air, air circulation and filtration are helpful factors in reducing airborne viruses. The district continues to monitor recommendations by the CDC, OHA, ODE and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) related to building ventilation. Our facilities team has implemented upgrades and adjustments to our building ventilation systems aligned with recommendations. 

Outside: Schools are encouraged to hold some activities, meals and classes outdoors when reasonable.

Outside air: Increasing fresh air dilutes and displaces airborne particles which may decrease virus transmission. During the pandemic, 4J buildings are operating exhaust fans up to 24 hours a day, five days a week, to increase air exchanges for every building. While every facility is unique, the average classroom has the ability to exchange air roughly 4–6 times per hour. This is separate from heating and cooling—air exchange is still happening on weekdays after the air conditioning goes off in the evening to save energy. Programmable ventilation systems will provide up to 100% outside air when air quality and temperatures allow.

Exterior windows and exterior doors may be opened for additional natural ventilation when air quality and temperature permit and when safety and security of the room are not compromised. When feasible, school bus windows and vents will be kept open for ventilation. Even partially opened windows improve fresh air circulation on the bus. 

Filters: The district’s ventilation systems use high-quality filters effective with our systems, MERV 8 or equivalent. Maintenance staff will check and change filters on a regular basis.

Air purifying: Air purifying devices have been installed in the ventilation systems in all 4J buildings to help neutralize and remove viruses and other particles from the air without producing ozone or other harmful byproducts. The devices use a technology called bipolar ionization (BPI) that is in use in schools, hospitals, airports, and other community buildings around the world. Bipolar ionization units from two manufacturers have been installed: most from Global Plasma Solutions and a few from iWave. These systems have been UL Listed to meet guidelines set forth for air cleaning devices.

These units are installed and operating in all ventilation systems districtwide. They are not visible from inside classrooms, as they are installed in the building’s HVAC system. In small unique workspaces with an apparent lack of ventilation, staff may inquire with their administrator, and facilities staff will determine if circulation is such that providing a local alternative such as a standalone air purifier is warranted. Staff may bring their own standalone air purifying units for their workspaces if they wish; they must be placed in a safe and sensible location and the district will not be responsible for maintaining them.

Ventilation System Upgrades

Q: Will schools and buses be cleaned every day? What cleaning products will be used?

Yes. Custodial staff will clean and disinfect touchpoints throughout school buildings at least daily—including but not limited to restrooms, common areas, door knobs, light switches, and student desks. 

Only district-provided cleaning and disinfecting products will be used. These products are selected from the EPA List N to reduce the risk of asthma.

Q: How will I know if there is a case of COVID-19 in my student’s class?  

When a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19, contact tracing is conducted for the time the person was at school or work, to identify anyone who may have been exposed to the positive case. Contact tracing takes time and communication. In some cases, all students in cohorts (groups of students) that had contact with a COVID case may need to stay home for a day or two while contact tracing is conducted.

Parents will be contacted directly, usually by a personal phone call, if their child is identified as a susceptible close contact of a positive case. In such cases the student must quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure and will not be able to come to school.

Parents will be notified by email if a case is identified in a cohort their child is in.

To provide transparent information to parents and community members, the district also will publish data on reported positive or presumptive COVID-19 cases among students and staff who have been at school on-site, in an online dashboard on the district website.

Contact Tracing & Notification
COVID-19 Case Dashboard

Q: Where can I learn more about the district’s health and safety measures? 

Read 4J’s COVID-19 Comprehensive Disease Management Plan, available on this website.
COVID-19 Health & Safety Measures


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We know there are many more questions and information is always evolving. This FAQ will be updated with new questions and answers over time.