Superintendent’s Letter to Families – Schools Closed Rest of Year

4J Parent News: School Buildings Closed for Rest of School Year
 
Dear 4J families,
Governor Kate Brown today announced the difficult decision that our school doors will stay closed for the rest of the 2019–20 school year, as another important measure to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. 
 
The governor said, “We have Oregon’s students at the forefront of every decision we make about education. Their health, happiness, and safety is our priority. The best thing we can do for the health of our children, and for the thousands of educators across the state, is to give everyone certainty by announcing the decision today to close in-person classes for the remainder of the school year. School, and learning, will continue as best as we can using remote means.”
 
Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone in our community as we see the future of our school year change. We are incredibly sad that we will not be coming back together as a community and seeing our students back in our school buildings this spring. We know that this is difficult news to hear for both our staff and our students and families.
 
While school buildings are closed, education continues. We are beginning distance learning next week. Middle and high school students will begin their condensed third trimester classes on Monday, April 13. Elementary students will be transitioning throughout the week to teacher led learning. Please know that it will not look like the school days we had just a few weeks ago. Our 4J schools will continue to serve families and provide a distance learning environment in which students can learn, grow, and be supported for the remainder of our academic year. 
 
This will have an impact on all students, and particularly our English Language Learners, students experiencing disabilities, and students with other needs. I have asked that we prioritize equity in every decision, both instructional and operational. Our teaching and learning team is committed to providing connection and services that will allow all students to access learning and wraparound supports to meet the holistic needs of our students. 
 
To the Class of 2020—we see you. We are committed to ensuring that your hard work and accomplishments over 12-2/3 years of school are not diminished by an unprecedented closure during the last few months of your final school year. I know it may be devastating news that our 2020 seniors won’t have the traditional opportunities to celebrate in person with your classmates and close this special chapter in your lives. We will work to reimagine year-end experiences such as proms and graduation ceremonies. We want all of our students to have the opportunity for connection, belonging and optimism. I know our staff and families will rally behind our seniors and ensure you have opportunities to be seen and honored for your accomplishments. 
 
With today’s announcement also came a new plan for high school graduation requirements for students set to graduate in June 2020. There is no change to the number of credits required to graduate, but Essential Skills and Personalized Learning Requirements are suspended. Oregon high schools will be using a Pass / Incomplete grading system for the distance learning period. Additionally, third trimester course credits will be based on the senior’s course progress prior to the school closure (March 13). The purpose of this is to recognize progress and award credits towards the 24-credit Oregon Diploma requirement even though school is closed. The goal is to not penalize any senior for this crisis. 
 
While we are still digging into the details of this new guidance, we are working to ensure that every member of the Class of 2020 can access supports for their well-being, ongoing learning, high school completion and transition to career and college. We will focus our resources to support students to graduate and then prepare all graduates for the next steps in life. 
 
For those seniors who don’t have enough credits yet, we will create individualized plans to help them earn credits to stay on track with the Class of 2020. As we evaluate the new graduation guidance, your high school will communicate additional details directly to you, and high school seniors will receive individual guidance on next steps. 
 
Athletics and activities also are canceled. Following the Governor’s announcement, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) cancelled all remaining spring sports and activities. If your student registered to participate in an OSAA spring activity, the fees you paid to the school will be refunded soon. 
 
We know many of our families are experiencing challenges and hardships during this unprecedented time. Every day seems to bring a new normal. These changes are stressful for us all—not just for adults, but for students of all ages. During this time of constant change, be assured that the 4J community is here for you. We care deeply about the well-being of each and every 4J student and family. I encourage you to take a moment to visit our resources webpage and review some of the many mental health and other resources that are available to students and families. https://www.4j.lane.edu/communications/coronavirus/resources
 
This experience is testing all of us, but it also serves as a strong reminder that we are a resilient community. I want to say thank you for the kindness and patience you show to one another. We will all need continued patience, kindness and resilience as we move through these next few months.
 
Our district and schools will continue to communicate and engage with you as we move forward. Although our buildings and playgrounds may be closed, we are still here to support you. We will get through this together, as a community. Thank you for your continued grace and support. 
 
Gustavo Balderas
Superintendent
Eugene School District 4J