August 3, 2020
Dear Grants Pass School District families,
As many of you know, we have been working on our Ready Schools, Safe Learners blueprint for reopening our schools. Educators, administrators, and staff have been working around the clock to develop a plan that not only delivers high level learning opportunities but does so in the safest way possible for our staff, students, and their families.
How did we get here?
At the start of June, staff and families were invited to participate in a survey to help shape plans for the fall and provide feedback on the distance learning we all shifted to at a moment’s notice in the spring. Of those who responded to the survey, nearly 70% of families said they wanted to return to school in-person, 5 days a week. Just over 5% said they wanted to continue in full distance learning this fall.
After hearing from our families, convening several re-opening committees of staff, and poring over the guidance from Oregon Department of Education, the district developed a model where K-5 students are in school every day, and 6-12 students are on a rotating, hybrid model. We recognize that children learn best when physically present in the classroom, and this model would allow for as much in-person instruction as feasible with the state requirements, while getting our youngest, earliest, learners in the classroom every day.
Those plans were shared with our community on July 1, 2020. Since then, cases of coronavirus across our state continue to rise, reaching daily records. Last week, Governor Kate Brown announced state-wide coronavirus “metrics” which determine whether schools can have in-person learning at all. The metrics deal with state and county test positivity rates and having less than 10 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in your county for three weeks in a row. That translates to having less than 9 cases per week in Josephine County for three consecutive weeks. Currently, we do not meet that metric. Just two weeks ago, the Oregon Health Authority reported 16 new cases in Josephine County.
With these new state requirements in effect, it’s clear we must start the 20-21 school year in Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL), with the exception of K-3 and our most vulnerable students. More on that in a moment.
What is Comprehensive Distance Learning?
Comprehensive Distance Learning is everything you love about Grants Pass Schools, delivered on a virtual platform. This will not be like the short-term distance learning we all experienced in the spring. Students will work with their GPSD7 teacher(s) virtually using district adopted curriculum and programs. We will use one learning management system (Canvas) which will have all school/class information. There will be daily schedules with synchronous (live) learning opportunities alongside independent work. You can expect standard grading: letter grades for 6-12, and 1-4 scale for K-5. There will be time built into the school schedule for teacher check-ins and peer-to-peer interactions. School will look and feel different, there’s no doubt about it. But we are crafting a plan that aims to give kids the best possible education we can, while adjusting our approach under the circumstances.
With CDL, the hope and intent is that it’s temporary.
Once state and county metrics allow, students will return to in-person learning at their regular school to the extent possible. We will still need to operate on-site in a hybrid model for grades 4-12, in order to follow the strict health and safety requirements outlined by the Oregon Department of Education, but we have plans and schedules created for that scenario too. We’ll revisit what those models look like as we get closer, but we’re aiming for a return to hybrid instruction by November, so long as it’s safe.
What’s the exception for K-3 and vulnerable students?
The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education have created exceptions for counties with lower COVID-19 cases and lower test positivity rates. Keep in mind, it could change any time up until the start of the school year, but right now, we are one of only 13 counties that meet the exception. That means we are able to bring our earliest learners, K-3, on-site and can provide in-person assessments for special education eligibility.
The plan is to have a slow start for K-3 beginning in September. This will allow for students and their families to familiarize themselves with new health and safety protocols, as well as new programs and technology in the event we must return to CDL. Your teachers and schools will be communicating information about the slow start, in a few weeks.
What if we don’t want to do Comprehensive Distance Learning?
The Grants Pass School District is offering a 100% online option called GP Online. This is for students and families who want a virtual K-12 option regardless of whether schools re-open their physical doors. Students and families are encouraged to make a yearlong commitment to this option. You can learn more or register HERE.
What we will provide no matter which instructional model you choose:
- Transportation (when we’re able to resume in-person instruction)
- Student Support Services – counselors, SPED services, EL, etc.
- Social-Emotional Supports
- Peer-to-Peer Interactions
All that said, we know there are so many challenges presented by the extended closure of our physical buildings. Not being able to have kids on-site means that single parents, working families, those that care for young children or sick/elderly family members are trying to figure out how they’ll support their students as they learn from home. Until we can re-open there is no perfect solution, but we will continue to brainstorm with our community partners and share any supports we can.
If you have additional questions, please consider attending one of our virtual town halls this Thursday.
If you would like to join the meeting by phone, click HERE for information.
Kirk T. Kolb
July 28, 2020
Today Governor Kate Brown announced state and county coronavirus “metrics” which determine whether schools can have in-person learning. The metrics deal with the number of COVID-19 cases, and test positivity rates. You can read more HERE.
Currently, we do not meet the requirements that would allow for in-person instruction. This means we need to prepare for the possibility of starting the school year in comprehensive distance learning, if current COVID-19 numbers don’t improve as required by the state. I know there will be a variety of emotions felt reading that possibility.
After receiving today’s information, we have more work to do. Our teachers, staff, and administrators will be reconvening to determine our best path forward. We’re learning these developments as you are, and we’re working to share them out as quickly as possible.
In the event we need to start the school year with all students learning at home, we would implement a Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) model. Be assured that CDL in 20-21 would be different and more robust than what students and teachers experienced last spring. You can learn more about the rigorous state requirements for CDL by clicking HERE.
The health, safety, and wellness of our students and staff has guided every decision we’ve made thus far and continues to be the district’s top priority. Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support as we adapt and adjust to the ever-changing circumstances.
REMINDER: GPSD7 will be holding two virtual town halls next week.
- August 6, 2020 @ 1:00 PM
- August 6, 2020 @ 6:00 PM
Links for the virtual meetings will be posted on our website, www.wearegp.com and sent to the email address you provided to your student’s school(s).
Kirk T. Kolb
July 23, 2020
Hello GP Families,
The Oregon Department of Education has released new guidance for reopening schools. Among the changes, face coverings will now be required for all K-12 students and staff, with some exceptions for medical necessities.
We recognize there are students and families who have concerns about returning to school due to the changes, underlying health conditions, or exposure to COVID-19. As we shared earlier this month, we will be offering a K-12 education that is fully online. We’re excited to announce registration for that educational option is now OPEN. Students in this model will continue to be enrolled in their regular GPSD7 school, but will instead participate in a fully virtual experience called GP Online. You can learn more about the program HERE.
We know many of you have questions and concerns as you navigate this ever-changing situation. As you work to determine what option will be best for your student(s) and family this fall, we will be holding the following virtual town halls to answer your questions and hear your feedback.
August 6, 2020 1:00 PM
August 6, 2020 6:00 PM
Invitation links for the town halls will be posted on our website and sent to the email you provided to your student’s school(s).
Thank you for your continued patience. As we continue to get new guidance, our initial framework for re-opening may change. As we update our plans to match the state’s expectations and guidelines we will be sure to share those with you.
Kirk T. Kolb
May 7, 2020
Hello D7 families,
We wanted to let you know about an important benefit you should be receiving soon.
The Department of Human Services in partnership with the Oregon Department of Education has announced that they will be providing a cash benefit to families for the months of March, April, May, and June for meals they would have received had their child been in school. The amount each family will receive for each child is $384. Eligible Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households will have their March, April and May benefits automatically deposited in their existing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) accounts in late May. Students who get free or reduced-price school meals but do not receive SNAP benefits will automatically receive an Oregon Trail Card in the mail.
Since District 7 qualifies for all of our students to receive free meals at school, this benefit will be provided to each family with children enrolled in District 7.
Additional options to strengthen food security include the ability for families to use their P-EBT cards to make food purchases online through Amazon and WalMart as well as take advantage of the “Double Up Food Bucks” program which matches every $1 of EBT funds spent, up to $10 on fresh fruit and vegetables at participating farmers markets.
Families do not have to apply for this benefit as the district is submitting an application for the entire district.
In addition to this benefit, the district will continue providing free grab-and-go meals Monday through Friday, through June 5th. You can learn more about meal pick-up and see our meal delivery schedule HERE. We will provide updates on what our summer meal program will look like soon.
Be safe, and stay well.
Kirk T. Kolb
April 8, 2020
Good afternoon D7 students and families,
As you've likely heard, Governor Kate Brown just announced Oregon school buildings will remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
In spite of this disappointing news, learning will continue despite this closure. However, in-person classes will not take place for the rest of this academic year.
We anticipated this announcement. When we let you know we would be transitioning to Distance Learning for All, it was in line with guidance from the Oregon Department of Education that there was a "strong possibility" our students and teachers would not return to the physical classroom.
That is now concrete.
We know this is not the outcome we all had hoped for. We know there are events and opportunities that will be missed because of this closure. We are committed to finding creative ways to celebrate all the accomplishments and milestones for our students. We welcome your thoughts and ideas.
Finally, we know that no two families are the same, and this is going to be a challenge. You are dealing with your own stress and anxiety over this ever-changing situation. Some of you are continuing to work, and we know helping students with distance learning has added difficulty for our essential workers. We are so grateful for the work being done on the front line for our healthcare system, the first responders, the delivery drivers and food service workers, the truck drivers, the grocery store staff, the list goes on. You are helping to keep us going.
Please watch for a FAQ the district will be publishing in the next few days for students and families.
Our motto here has been centered around simplicity, patience and most importantly grace - for ourselves and for others.
Stay healthy, stay well, and reach out for help when and where you need it.
We're all in this together.
Kirk T. Kolb
March 31, 2020Dear D7 families,I hope you and your family are safe and healthy.As many of you know, the situation continues to evolve, as the state, and the nation, work to slow the spread of COVID-19.Last night, we received new guidance from the Oregon Department of Education. ODE is now asking districts to prepare for the "strong possibility" of kids not returning to our physical classrooms this school year.I know there are a lot of emotions that come up when you read that. There is likely a lot of anxiety about what this new teaching and learning model will look like for your students, and for you.Each day has presented new information, and it's constantly changing. The details of what this means for our district remain to be determined.We are still waiting for official guidance from ODE on graduation requirements for seniors. They assure us every effort is being made to ensure students on track to graduate will earn their diploma. We expect to hear from them later this week.Even as we adapt to the changing guidance, we are still pressing forward.
I know this is a challenging time for all of us. Please be sure to take some time to process this and to prepare yourself for this potential reality. It’s okay to be affected by the loss of time with teachers, friends, and the activities and traditions we celebrate at the end of the year. If you need support, ODE has compiled a comprehensive list of resources that can be found HERE.
- We will still be distributing Chromebooks to students Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3.
- We will still provide supplemental educational materials to students beginning Monday, April 6. This will help introduce students and families to this new way of learning.
- We will still provide meals to kids birth-18, Monday through Friday at elementary schools, and at bus stops: https://www.grantspass.k12.or.us/Page/5050
- We will continue to inform you of educational plans, every step of the way.
- GP Learn at Home will officially begin Monday, April 13.
Kirk T. Kolb
March 30, 2020
Dear GPSD7 staff and families,
Any other year, we would have been welcoming students back to our schools today after spring break. We know it looked a lot different for all of us this year, but we hope you had the opportunity to rest, and enjoy time together as a family.
Since the governor ordered Oregon schools to close amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our staff has been working around the clock to figure out what learning will look like in the coming weeks while students and teachers cannot be physically in the classroom. We are still waiting to learn more from the Oregon Department of Education in terms of guidance for school credit and graduation requirements. We will be sure to pass along all the information we get from ODE, as we get it. If you have specific questions you would like answered, please email them to Office_of_the_Superintendent@grantspass.k12.or.us, and we will be compiling an FAQ document on our website as those answers come in: www.grantspass.k12.or.us
What’s to Come
Your child’s school emailed you a survey to find out what your needs are in terms of access to a computer, internet, and meals. If you did not have a chance to fill out the survey, you will be hearing from your child’s school this week, if you haven’t already.
The district is implementing remote supplemental learning in phases, and working to remove barriers to ensure all students have access to learning opportunities.
A few notes and other reminders:
- The Grants Pass Active Club will be giving away FREE bags of fresh produce tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31, from 11-7 at Oregon Pour Authority on SE 7th Street. They will be giving away approximately 1,000 bags of fruit and vegetables while supplies last.
- Bus route food delivery for kids 18 and under will begin THIS Wednesday, April 1. Our grab-and-go stations at the elementary schools will continue from 11 am – 12:30 pm. More info: https://www.grantspass.k12.or.us/Page/5050
- Chromebook distribution will take place Thursday, April 2 and Friday, April 3 at each school location. If you need to make other arrangements for picking up a device, please contact the school.
- Elementary Chromebooks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Middle and High School from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.
- GP Learn at Home will begin Monday, April 6.
We are also posting updates on our social media platforms, and we would love to connect with you there.
This is new territory for all of us, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate and adapt to our new normal.
Be safe, be healthy, and we’ll touch base again soon.
Kirk T. Kolb
March 27, 2020
Dear D7 Families,
Your school teams have been working hard to keep up on the ever-changing landscape of how to do school in this season of everyone staying at home. First and foremost, we hope you all are well and practicing the important guidance from the Oregon Health Authority to help everyone be safe from Covid-19. We are stronger together and we can do this.
Each day has brought new information, expectations, and concerns and has required much problem-solving and planning. We know it is not typical school, but it is important that we all do what we can from our homes to keep our children’s minds growing and learning.
We want you to have a general idea of how supplemental learning will happen for your children and we will continue to have the up-to-date information on our website here: www.grantspass.k12.or.us/Page/5056 or from your child’s home school webpage.
Eating well is such an important aspect for us all during this time. To support you, we are continuing to provide 2 meals each day for each student, Monday through Friday. Please check our website here https://www.grantspass.k12.or.us/Page/5056 to see the food options for your family.
Below is a general outline of what you can expect next week and gearing up for April 6, when we will officially have supplementary materials for you.
Monday, March 30 - Friday, April 3
- School staff will reconvene remotely to create materials for students that will be available digitally as well as in hard copy packets
- Staff will receive training to create digital learning environments for all students to access
- Staff will be contacting families who were not able to respond to our survey to ensure everyone has access to technology, grade level packets and district meals
- Supplementary Learning options gathered by the district are available on all school web pages linked here.
- Food will continue to be provided; Grab and Go sites will be at all six elementary schools. North MS, South MS, GPHS, and Gladiola students can receive meals at any of the elementary school locations. In addition to the Grab and Go sites, we will be starting bus stop delivery of meals on April 1st; here is a link to the bus stop delivery schedules - by school, linked here.
Thursday, April 2
- Student Chromebook checkout will begin at each school site
- We will adhere to strict social distancing and cleanliness standards for this process to protect against any spread of Covid-19.
- You will be provided the process for checking out a Chromebook for your students
- All devices have been thoroughly sterilized to protect against any potential virus spread
Friday, April 3
- Continued student Chromebook checkout as needed
Monday, April 6
- First week of grade level and course materials will be available, both digitally and in hard copy packets
Teachers will be communicating with their students on how to access the content for their classes as it is developed.
We are expecting more information from the Oregon Department of Education regarding seniors and 9th through 11th grade students. We will be communicating that information as soon as we have it from the state.
It can be hard to express our feelings about something that we cannot see but in this unsettling time, remember how strong we are and that we are even stronger when working together. Continue to do the good work of keeping the virus in check by practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, and giving each other a little grace in your confined spaces.
We Are GP!
March 20, 2020
Good Afternoon GPSD Staff and Families,
We had a meeting with ODE this afternoon with only minor updates. They will be announcing plans by the middle of next week as related to graduating seniors. Their perspective sounds incredibly promising and reassuring. I cannot share specifics of the items discussed as none of them are final but it makes me very hopeful in ensuring diplomas for our kiddos.
The plan continues with the closures through April 28th and supporting your children with supplemental educational and learning opportunities to roll out by April 1st. Also, the plan for staff to return on March 30th is still in place.
We will not be serving breakfast and lunch for the scheduled spring break (next week), however, we will resume this with a more elaborate plan starting on March 30th. The Boys and Girls club is serving over the spring break. Here is the link for that information: https://begreat4kids.com/
Things seem to be changing on a daily basis and we will do our best to continue to keep you informed with the latest information and guidance.
On a final note, enjoy the time with your loved ones and families. Laugh together, play games, and go for a walk. Spend time doing what makes your heart full. Your calmness and positivity will provide an environment that is supportive and help people weather this storm. I am continually grateful to have the opportunity to serve our kids, staff, families, and this amazing community.
Kirk T. Kolb
March 17, 2020
Good Evening D7 Families and Staff,
The Governor has just declared that all schools will remain closed through April 28th. This is a choice beyond local control but want to ensure we are following the recommendations of health experts.
We have begun organizing to ensure we develop educational resources and support for your children during this time. We will continue to provide meals available at schools and potentially expanding accessibility to meals beyond pick-up at our schools.
You should plan to continue to get updates from us as related to educational planning and governmental updates.
We are also trying to plan for childcare opportunities for what state statutes refer to as ‘essential’ employees (police, medical, etc.). If any of you are in need of this, please let us know. We are also exploring how we can provide opportunities for more than just ‘essential’ employees.
For parents of seniors, this is especially unfortunate. We will ensure opportunities for your students to obtain the necessary credits to meet state graduation requirements and continue necessary actions to apply for college and move forward with their plans after graduation.
Again, we are grateful for an amazing community and continue to ask for the most positive thoughts and prayers during this time. We will weather these times and be stronger for it. If you are able, I encourage you to provide assistance to families in need and populations that are most compromised as you are able.
Kirk T. Kolb
Grants Pass School District #7