"The timing of this announcement couldn't be more appropriate, and I commend Governor Brown for taking this action,” stated Alsea School Superintendent Marc Thielman during a phone interview Friday evening. “I’m relieved and want to express gratitude to the Governor as I know countless families across the state are anxious to have their concerns and challenges addressed. With the mounting evidence we've amassed since the onset of this pandemic, the importance of in-person instruction, along with social and emotional connections gained during school hours, are invaluable. It's time to get kids reconnected to in-person instruction swiftly, before additional collateral damage is done.” Thielman went on to add, “the evidence is overwhelming: schools that use reasonable covid mitigation protocols are safe for both kids and staff and are not sources of spread.” A Sentiment echoed and shared by the Director of Oregon's Department of Education Colt Gill.Thielman’s district, the Alsea School District, offers three public educational models for families: a physical campus facility for traditional in-person learning, a strictly digital program with an online school he’s had in place prior to the original lockdown last year (out of demand from families who wish for online-only), and now a new at home learning program called Learn at Home Oregon. After the feedback Thielman received from parents last spring, he approached his board to bring forth a balanced on-line and off-line learning approach through a home-based distance education program that launched over the summer. This third choice brought a new option for families both in his district, as well as across the state as many expressed concerns regarding screen time for children. Alsea's physical classrooms however, have been safely open for in-person learning since August for those in his district that do want to attend. The open campus in Alsea has proven that with proper protocols in place, schools can safely and effectively operate, while continuing to provide important services to students and their families, amidst even the most difficult of challenges.
“I have confidence in the Governor’s decision to return the process of determining appropriate risk thresholds back to the local school districts and their communities,” said Thielman. “Doing so is the only way to provide balance to diverse geographical regions and challenges that face different communities across our state. The Governor’s briefing acknowledges what I have been sharing with other educators across the state: we need to address that there are distinct differences in those we are here to serve and we need to find equitable ways to support and accommodate all students.”According to Suzanne Gallagher, the Director of Parents' Rights in Education, "There has been a growing concern regarding equitable access to in-person education. We believe this is an important upturn of events, and applaud Governor Brown's decision. We have received an outpouring of daily correspondence from educators, students and parents asking for help. At disproportionately higher rates, we've heard from our community members of color; sharing stories of financial hardship, sharing that they've lost a child to suicide, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, high-stress and a general acknowledgement that online-only education is absolutely failing their families,” stated Gallagher. “We recognize that Governor Brown, the OHA, and the ODE have been faced with exceptional challenges, and criticisms during this time, but our organization applauds every step closer towards a more equitable and inclusive future."
Theiman ended the interview with this thought, “The Governor has brought back a sense of balance to the direction for schools in Oregon, and as a father and Superintendent, I am encouraged to hear this. I'm also ready to continue to serve families with the services and support they need most right now, in order to get their children back on track and ready for the futures they desperately deserve.”
|Post Date: 2021-01-10 13:07:52||Last Update: 2021-01-10 13:28:20|