The Banks Middle School. Photo: Chas Hundley

BANKS - The Banks School District plans to release a reopening plan in the first week of August that will address how the district will hold classes for students in the coming academic year. 

“Currently we are in the process of developing a comprehensive reopen plan that addresses a variety of issues,” said Banks School District superintendent Jeff Leo in a letter to parents and community members dated July 9. “How to protect students and staff from the spread of COVID-19, how to safely distance students during school and while being transported by bus, and how to ensure students continue to make progress on their academic goals. This reopen plan is based on recommendations and requirements from the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA),” Leo wrote. 

Guidance from the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority on school reopening is expected to change with new developments from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the DOE. 

The state’s changing response to mitigate COVID-19 impacts, input from educators, students, families and community partners, lessons learned from other states and countries, impacts to student equity, and guidance from Governor Kate Brown’s Healthy Schools Reopening Council are all factors that can change how schools can reopen in the fall, the DOE said in a press release. 

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Additional guidance on school reopening is expected July 21, according to the DOE.

Leo said that the district is aware that some parents may not send their children to school in the fall over concerns due to COVID-19, especially those parents with children who are medically fragile, enrolled in a specialized program, or have received a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Leo said the district will have an alternative online academy that parents can apply for for their students, with an application coming soon to the Banks School District website and emailed to parents.

The application will be open until mid-August, according to the district, and will allow BSD officials to get a head-count of how many students expect to spend all or part of the year learning online. 

“No matter what the reopen plan will look like in the fall, we still may need to have short-term closures during the school year because of an outbreak of COVID,” Leo said, and noted that the district will provide a “technology device” for all Banks School District students. 

Read the full letter here.