I'm writing to you with an important update regarding school this fall. Governor Brown recently announced a new set of requirements that have to be met before Oregon schools can reopen for in-person classes.
I'm first going to cover the details of the new requirements and then will go into what this means for Delphian.
OREGON REQUIREMENTS FOR IN-PERSON CLASSES:
Before Oregon schools can hold in-person classes, there are three requirements that must be met. The first is a state-wide metric: The percentage of positive COVID-19 test results in Oregon must be at or below 5.0% three weeks in a row. This is considered to be an indication that enough testing is occurring.
Once the state-wide metric has been met, there are two metrics that must be met within the county:
- The percentage of positive COVID-19 test results within the county must be at or below 5% for three weeks in a row.
- The number of new COVID-19 cases per week must be at or below 10 per 100,000 people for three weeks in a row.
You can view the state and Yamhill County's weekly statistics here. As you can see, the state and county metrics are not currently being met.
There is an exception for students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade. (In our case that would be Lower School through Form 3.) Students at that level may return to in-person classes when the following criteria are met:
- COVID-19 must not be actively spreading among the school community.
- The case rate in the county must be under 30 new weekly cases per 100,000 people for three weeks in a row.
- The test positivity in the county must be at or below 5% for three weeks in a row.
This past spring, Oregon banned in-person classes, and we received an exemption from the Department of Education that allowed us to continue in-person classes with our boarding students.
When the Governor announced these new fall requirements, we again submitted a request for an exemption to the Department of Education, outlining strict measures we were willing to take on campus to limit the potential for spread of the virus. Unfortunately, today we received the latest return-to school guidance and learned that no exceptions will be made for any public or private day or boarding schools.
We have had no cases of COVID-19 in connection with the school and have had almost no illness of any kind on campus since spring. Oregon continues to have low numbers of the virus--new cases are within the bottom 25% of US states. While we believe we could safely open the campus, we have always complied with local regulations and will continue to do so.
This means Delphian, along with all Oregon public and private schools, will not be able to have students physically on the campus until the metrics outlined above are met. Looking at the recent statistics, it is very likely we will be starting our school year online. It's unfortunate that these new requirements were announced so late in the summer, giving very little notice to schools and families.
We know this is not what anyone hoped for, but our teachers and supervisors have come up with an incredible online learning plan that will be a significant upgrade from the online learning that was offered in the spring. Here are some details:
- Classes will be divided by time zone and by Form so students can connect with each other, collaborate on assignments and receive individualized attention from our faculty.
- Each weekday will include 5 hours of supervised academic study via Zoom. Classes will begin with attendance and meeting with teachers one-on-one.
- Students will be provided with access to all the curriculum and resources they will need to successfully continue on their program.
- Students on Form 6 and above will continue attending their seminars (literature, current events, business seminar, science seminar and second language).
- Students will continue to hold weekly student council meetings and do student services helping with jobs at home and/or in their community.
- Dorm captains will continue to do daily room checks over video chat, checking in on their peers and encouraging them to keep their rooms tidy. (Parents can choose if they'd like their child to participate in this.)
- A wide selection of interactive extracurricular classes will be offered. Students will be sent supplies and/or given shopping lists well in advance so they can fully participate in each class. Examples of what may be offered include the following:
- Physical education and sports
- Painting and drawing
- Arts and crafts
- Virtual band
- Virtual choir
- Digital media
- Video game development
- Chess club
- Writing club
- Photography club
- Science club
- We'll be launching a student-led campaign to make the world a better place, with all students challenged to find projects they can safely do to positively impact their family and community.
We would like all parents to fill out this survey. Your input is important to us, and we'll use the information you share to ensure your family receives the best possible service. Your child's teacher, supervisor or school head will be in touch with you in the coming weeks with more details on your child's specific online learning program.
As soon as Yamhill County meets the requirements to begin in-person classes for younger students, we will bring our Lower School through Form 3 students back to campus. Once the more stringent requirements are met for in-person classes above the Form 3 level, we will bring back our Form 4-8 students. When we see the county is getting close to meeting those requirements, we will give parents as much advance notice as we can.
We know some of our international families made arrangements to have their children stay locally over the August break. We wish we had received notice of these new requirements earlier in the summer so you could have made different plans if you so desired. If you choose to have your child fly home and need help with transportation to the airport, please contact Mary Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many families made donations to help fund the construction of new classroom spaces to comply with Oregon's social distancing requirements for schools when they re-open. These space requirements will be in place at least through next June, so your contributions are still very much needed and appreciated. These new classrooms will be used as soon as we bring students back to campus. Thank you for your continued support!
Our Director of Tuition, April Ott, will be sending out new contracts to re-enrolling families. New families will be contacted by their Admissions associate. Boarding contracts will be converted to day contracts so you will not be charged for room and board during the time your child is participating in school remotely. Day contracts will be modified to remove meal fees.
This is a challenging situation for all of us, and the school will be here to support you and your children. We are counting on all of our families to stick together and keep the Delphian community strong so that we can weather this storm as a united team. We are on track to have our highest enrollment this fall. Many of our classrooms are full, and we have a waiting list for some levels of the program. We will continue to flourish this year and are looking forward to helping your children do the same!