Superintendent’s Update

Shared with the Corvallis School Board during the June 11, 2020 meeting

Regional Racial Equity Group

Our district’s equity work began in 2013 with training for leadership staff and it has continued throughout our district. While we have continued to build capacity in this work through staff training and workgroups at each school, there is still much work to do. We recognize that our beliefs and values must match our actions. We must ensure school communities where all students have equal access and opportunities without discrimination based on race.

Over a year ago, our district initiated a regional conversation about racial equity in our public schools. We formed a Regional Racial Equity Group with representatives from the NAACP Corvallis/Albany chapter and our neighboring districts including Greater Albany, Philomath, Lebanon, and LBL-ESD. The group has met several times as a large group and as a smaller core team to gain a better perspective of the experience of our students and staff of color across our region.

The mission of our group is to confront, interrupt, and dismantle systems of inequity that persist for our students, staff, and families of color. We have been working on a declaration that will be shared soon that we hope will empower and encourage our students, staff, and communities of color that we are all in this together and we will hold ourselves accountable to eliminate racial disparities and inequities in our system. While this statement has been in process since earlier this spring, the facts of the current racial climate and trauma for our communities of color are a reminder of the critical importance and urgency of this work.

School Resource Officer

Over the last several weeks, concerns from the community have been raised about the role of police officers in our schools. We currently have a school resource officer (SRO) from the Corvallis Police Department assigned to our district and funded through the City of Corvallis police and fire public safety fee. Over the last two weeks, I have had discussions with the president of the NAACP Corvallis/Albany Branch and the incoming and outgoing Corvallis Police Department police chiefs. I have also received emails from high school students and families requesting that our district no longer have an SRO in our schools. I recognize the need for the school board to understand the current role of our SRO and ongoing dialogue with our community before we consider potential changes for the future. 

Planning for the 2020-21 School Year

Yesterday, the Directors of the Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority released the Ready Schools Safe Learners Guidance for the 2020-21 school year with the expectation that schools across the state of Oregon will re-open for instruction either in-person, online, or a combination of the two (hybrid). 

This guidance includes significant health and safety protocol requirements including physical distancing practices, creating student cohorts to allow for contact tracing, and transportation and meal service and other student supports. These safety requirements set the stage for a likely return through a hybrid learning model.

Also in the guidelines are the following reminders: 

  • Our state will be living with the virus until there is immunity, which is many months off.
  • The best tools to protect individuals are physical distancing and hygiene. 
  • Every health restriction lifted increases the opportunity for transmission and will increase cases.
  • Every decision has the potential to disproportionately impact the most marginalized and historically underserved communities by exacerbating existing conditions of inequity. 

As we work through the challenges of COVID-19 I have to remind myself of the quote by Dr. Anthony Fauci, “you don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.”  With that in mind, we are also developing a more comprehensive distance-learning model.  It is our hope not to shift to a comprehensive distance learning approach next school year, yet if cases of COVID-19 increase cohorts, schools or the district may be required to make this shift following guidance from the Oregon Health Authority.

We recognize the challenges any educational delivery model poses for our families and that our communities of color are impacted to a greater extent. Concerns including supporting at-home learning and social-emotional needs of our students, parent/guardian work schedule requirements, and the need for our students to have an “in-person” connection with school staff and friends are weighing heavily on our minds as we create a plan for next year. 

While we anticipate continued guidance over the coming weeks, these guidelines provide us the framework necessary as we continue our 2020-21 re-opening plans and activities. In addition to the parent and staff input already received, we currently have teams of educators participating in seven planning teams. Their continued work will inform our district’s plan that must be approved by the school board and submitted to ODE by August 15. 

There are many questions left to be answered surrounding summer activities, fall athletics, and individualized circumstances for students and staff. I am looking forward to sharing a plan that will allow us to safely welcome back our students and staff in September.

Guidance from the Oregon Department of Education will be updated throughout the summer and we will continue to partner closely with local health experts, and engage stakeholders and communicate as we work together to develop plans to keep our students and staff safe.  

Summer Supports for Students

Free Meal Sites

Free meals for children will continue to be offered at curb-side pickup locations throughout the summer. The current sites are at Lincoln and Wilson Elementary Schools, Linus Pauling Middle School, and Clemens Primary School in Philomath, Witham Hill (located at the city bus stop at the top of Witham Hill) and Adair Village at Santiam Christian School, 7220 NE Arnold Avenue. 

All sites are approved for the Summer Free Meals program and will continue through August 28. Thank you to Food and Nutrition Services Manager Sharon Gibson for her leadership and the great work her team has been doing since March to provide access to health, nutritious, and free meals to children in our community.

Supporting Families

The care and support for our most vulnerable families continue to be a priority. Donated food and supply “pantry bags” are being delivered to families in need and this will continue through the summer months. Donations continue to be accepted at the Western View Center Monday through Thursday from 9 am to noon. Starting June 22, donation hours will Tuesday and Thursday only from 9 am to noon. We are grateful to our community donors and partners for supporting our families with their donations and to Pacific Coast Fruit Company for the generous donation of 60 cases of food and produce each week that is shared between Corvallis, Philomath, and Alsea School Districts.

Student Devices and Wi-Fi Access Locations

To support the opportunity for summer learning, student devices will not be turned in over the summer. Middle school students moving up to high school will be turning in their iPad and will receive a Chromebook. That will be taking place next week.

Internet access for students will continue to be offered this summer at Linus Pauling Middle School, Lincoln Elementary School, Mt. View Elementary School, and Adams Elementary School, between the district administration building and the school. Student devices will automatically login through the district filter at these locations. Wi-Fi access is available from 7 am – 10 pm, 7 days a week.

Families are reminded that if you come to the area by car, please plan to remain in your vehicle. If you are not in a vehicle, please practice safe physical distancing (6 feet or more) from others. The areas will be monitored, but no supervision will be provided.