Serving the Communities & Surrounding Areas of Brownsville, Halsey, Shedd & Peoria, Oregon.

Letter to the Community from Superintendent Gardner – September 1, 2020

September 1, 2020  /  Superintendent

Central Linn Community and Families,

Last Friday evening I received clarification on our reopening plan from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) after it received extra scrutiny due to concerns that were expressed from some individuals in the Central Linn community. Although our plan for reopening is one of the tightest in the state, with incredible safeguards in place, as a result of months of work by administrators, teachers and other staff members; I am afraid the outcome was not in our favor.

The state matrices for reopening and the allowed exceptions to those matrices are complex and not many of the criteria are controlled by the District. For instance, the percentage of students and staff that reside outside of our District boundaries; this was ultimately the statistic that will prevent us from opening K-12 under the rural and remote exception. This ratio was unavailable until the completion of registration and was impacted by the number of in-district parents that chose to homeschool their children.

There is still the possibility that we can open K-3 to in-person learning under a different matrices exception but we will not know that until next week’s county report is released, which will be on September 7th. Parents will receive further information during our soft start the week of the 8th. I remain optimistic that we will be able to open in-person learning for K-3 as transfer students or staff home locations are not an issue under this particular exception and county cases of COVID-19 remain low.

As of now, we will proceed with plans for Comprehensive Distance Learning for 4th-12th grade and in-person learning for K-3. Plans for limited on-site learning for 4-12 are in development and you will receive additional information on this optional resource as plans develop. We will review our status near the end of the six weeks’ time (late October) and every six weeks thereafter.

We are still waiting on guidance from the state in regards to transitions from in-person to Comprehensive Distance Learning and if we are successful in opening the building for K-3. I am fighting for guidance that allows some predictability for parents and the District. ODE agrees, we are trying to convince the Oregon Health Authority for our legitimate need of predictability.

I cannot thank those enough who worked all summer to develop a plan to serve our kids in person; you are amazing. Your work will not be in vain, as we now have a plan if circumstances allow us to implement it.

I know that as parents that you are trying to plan your lives and this process has been exhausting. I also know that this is not the outcome all of us were seeking. Please know that the District has done everything in its power to listen to you and try to deliver the in-person learning that you want for your children, we are being forced into the decisions we have had to make. Colt Gill, the Superintendent of the Oregon Department of Education, is attempting to clear his schedule to be present at our next Board meeting on September 14th to answer questions from the Board or questions submitted to the Board in writing prior to the meeting. I would like to note that Colt is a dedicated educator that is worthy of respect and he is not ‘all powerful’, he is also subject to the executive orders set forth by the Governor as well as decisions of the Oregon Health Authority. I expect grace and respect from those who chose to attend.

2020 continues to be full of challenges. I know that this process has been difficult and the outcome less than desirable. When I started at Central Linn ten years ago I was told the community wanted me to listen and be transparent in our decision making, this has been and will continue to be my goal throughout this process. Please remember that by operating in this manner it is a little messy. You get to know as I know, but you are also subject to the same changing landscape that I am. The District could have just announced Distance Learning for all two months ago, like many districts did but we were listening to your desires and tried every angle to make that happen: I don’t regret our choice.

Brian Gardner