August 4, 2020
The Morrow County School District Board of Directors met on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 to discuss the Morrow County School District Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) plan, an adjusted school calendar and a professional development plan to support staff in implementation of CDL.
When Morrow County School District students start the 20-21 school year, it will not be in the classroom, but from their homes. Restrictions by the state, along with local cases of COVID-19, are dictating that Morrow County School District will begin school with Comprehensive Distance Learning for all students. This model will be different than the Distance Learning for All approach implemented by districts in the spring where districts had to pivot almost overnight from traditional, in-person instruction in schools to online learning. Teachers who had never taught online and students who had never learned online had to struggle with technology issues, internet connection challenges and more. Additionally, in the spring, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) did not institute stringent guidelines about hours of instruction, grading, attendance and student progress. Those are just a handful of ways the 20-21 school year will be different, in addition to extra professional development plans that are set to unfold as early as next week, to ensure that staff is ready to take on this endeavor.
In addition to the discussion around the MCSD CDL plan, the Board of Directors adopted an updated 2020-2021 school calendar, moving the first student day to Tuesday, September 8, after the Labor Day holiday. This adjustment to the calendar will allow for ample time for staff to receive professional development that will ensure successful implementation of the district plan, with the ability to customize for individual school and family needs. Teachers will return to their buildings on August 24 with the expectation of working from their schools as long as county metrics and state guidance allow for it. Students' first day of virtual instruction will be September 8. No additional adjustments will need to be made to the district calendar, as the district has ample instructional time, even with the adjusted calendar.
Dirk Dirksen, Superintendent of MCSD, said the district is committed to providing robust professional development for teachers and staff to ensure they can successfully implement Comprehensive Distance Learning. “We didn’t have adequate time in the spring to prepare our teachers for online instruction and we have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, which we know will help as we start the year," Dirksen said. “Along with the accountability measures set out by the state, we are confident that our professional development efforts will support all of our students, including our most vulnerable students. As a district we look forward to welcoming our students back for face-to-face instruction just as soon as state metrics as defined by ODE and our local government officials support doing so," said Dirksen.