By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

McMinnville schools will open Sept. 14 with distance learning

UPDATED with local information.


McMinnville schools will open Sept. 14, a week later than planned, with comprehensive distance learning rather than in-person classes.

The district, which had been considering both distance learning and a hybrid model with in-person classes part of the time, announced the change Tuesday, saying it was "for the safety and security of our community."

Earlier in the day, Gov. Kate Brown and state education and health officials announced that schools could not hold in-person classes unless rates of coronavirus infections stayed at 5% or less for at least three weeks and fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents are diagnosed in the seven days prior to reopening.

At this point, most counties do not meet this mark. so most schools wouldn't be able to reopen. Yamhill County had a rate of 6.1 percent the week of July 5, too high for reopening, and rates of 4.0% and 4.5% the weeks of July 12 and July 19.

State officials said they want students to go back to school, especially those in kindergarten through third-grade who would benefit the most from working face-to-face with their teachers. But the infection rate needs to be low so students and educators won't risk getting the virus.


McMinnville officials said they plan to use distance learning for all students, at least through the  first quarter and maybe throughout the fall. They delayed the opening date to give teachers more time to prepare high-quality remote classes.

"This shift to online learning is not ideal," Superintendent Maryalice Russell said. "We recognize the challenges these circumstances present. Please know we are committed to the success of all our students and families during these difficult times and are preparing to help all our students navigate through this unprecedented time."

All McMinnville students will use Chromebooks and Google Classroom, Clever and learning curriculum provided by the district. Families can check out Chromebooks if they need them on Aug. 25, 26 or 27. Training also will be provided.

Building principals will host meetings about distance learning on Monday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m. in English and 7:30 p.m. in Spanish. Links will be sent to parents or posted on school websites.

Orientation for new students, pre-K and kindergartners and sixth- and ninth-grade families will be held Aug. 27.

Staff planning and training will run Aug. 31 to Sept. 9. Teachers will contact students beginning Sept. 10 to welcome them and conduct orientation to distance learning.


According to both the local district and state officials, distance learning will be much different than it was in spring, when district hastily switched to using computers and phones after schools shut down in mid-March because of the pandemic.

Brown said she is releasing $28 million to Oregon schools to help with teacher training, distance curriculum and access for all students.

Colt Gill, director of public instruction, added that distance learning this fall will carry "rigorous requirements" for family engagement, a common platform for learning within each school, daily engagement between students and instructors, social and mental health support, access to quality grade-level curriculum, equitable access and assessment.

McMinnville School District's comprehensive distance learning plan also lists a focus on ttraining, attendance, class time and grading, as well as "synchronous learning" with students and teachers online together at the same time.

During distance learning, school meals will continue to be delivered on bus routes, as they have since March, state officials said.

Several times during their hour-long press conference, Gill and Brown urged all Oregonians to help schools reopen by working together to stop the spread of the virus. Wear masks, use social distancing, avoid large gatherings and "wash, wash, wash" your hands, the governor said.

She and Gill were joined at the press conference by Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist.

They said they want all students to be able to return to school, if they and their teachers can be safe. But they especially hope the youngest children can have in-person classes soon because it's the best way to learn reading and numbers.

In addition, they said, data shows that children 10 and younger have lower rates of contracting and spreading coronavirus and they don't get as sick. 

An earlier version this story stated that the state is asking schools to hold in-person classes for students in kindergarten through third-grade. This applies only in areas with consistently low infection rates, not across the board.



That's all fine and good, but what about some sort of enforcement of truancy. During the last go around there were plenty of kids on the streets during the daytime, when they should of been in school or at least on their provided computer to learn something. We better get a grip on this now, as online educating could well be the wave of the future or we may just need to build more prisons if we can't keep our kids learning the right things and not just living on the streets, trolling their neighborhoods, and in general being a nuisance.

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