Fall Reopening Update: September 25, 2020
Dear ISP Community,
As we began this school year, we indicated that October 1 was our target date for reopening the entire campus for in-person learning. This date was chosen with the hope that the metrics set by the state and local health authorities would be met. We remain committed to reopening campus to in-person learning as soon as the State and County metrics are met. Unfortunately, it is clear from the latest data that the County will not open schools by October 1. While opening sometime in October is still possible, it seems that it would be best to anticipate that Multnomah County may not get cleared to open schools prior to early November.
To help everyone understand our status and where we need to be, I would like to give some information about the agencies that we coordinate with and how that impacts regulation and requirements. The following graphic shows where the Early Learning Division (ELD) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) have authority over ISP.
Preschool, Kindergarten and Emergency Day Care – At ISP, we have opened Preschool and Kindergarten under an emergency care license. This means that we do not have to meet the county metrics to open in-person. It also means that we strictly follow all safety and health protocols as set forth by the Early Learning Division (ELD). The Emergency Child Care program currently offered for our older students operates under the same license. This license does have restrictions attached to it, in that which prohibit us from expanding this license to open educational programming on campus to all grades.
Following the metrics
The State of Oregon has established specific metrics that must be met in order for Oregon public or private schools to reopen for in-person classes for all grades. The metrics are slightly different for students in Grades K-3 and for those in Grades 4 and higher. This difference is based on scientific information regarding how different age groups react to the COVID virus.
Typically, we need to look at three indicators: 1) County Case Rate per 100,000 people, 2) County Test Positivity Rate, and 3) State Positivity Rate. Due to the wildfires and other disruptions to testing, however, the County and State Positivity Rate Metrics are waived for the month of September. Due to the closure of testing sites, less people got tested, and those that did tended to be the sickest. Therefore the state determined that the positivity rate is not reliable for this month and we should only rely only on the County Case Rate per 100,000 people for the moment.
ISP has created our own metrics tracker where we update data on a weekly basis to see how the state and county are progressing towards the established benchmarks.
The Tracker – The data is organized so that the grade groupings are separated by a thick black line with grades K-3 in the top portion. The requirements are listed in the first column A for easy reference. Please note that the gray areas indicate the metrics that are waived for the month of September due to unreliable data. From the County Case Rate alone, it does look like we are inching closer and closer to Reopening on-campus learning up through Grade 3. We will need to meet a County Case rate of 30 or less for 3 weeks in a row in order to do this. The metrics over the next few weeks will obviously be very important for us.
This is a complex situation and is certainly not easily understood. There are multiple agencies, numerous and ever changing guidelines as well as exceptions. This can cause even more confusion because it can result in one school being able to operate in a certain manner while another may not be able to do the same. For example, very small independent schools may be able to reopen in-person for a few hours a week without waiting for the metric to be in place.
AT ISP, we are committed to reopening for in-person classes as soon as possible. That commitment carries with it our unwavering efforts to make certain that your children will be learning in the safest environment we can provide.