“Oregon’s school closure will be extended through the rest of the academic year as the state continues to battle the spread of coronavirus,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday, April 8.
Immediately after this announcement, the Oregon Trail School District, along with every other district in the state, closed all in-school classes for the rest of the year.
For Sandy High School, online distance learning began April 6, a week before the Oregon Department of Education’s April 13 deadline. K-8 schools in the District followed the next week.
For Sandy High students, distance learning has consisted of Google Meet or recorded video classes every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Live class sessions are recorded for those who are unable to make class during the time slot. On Wednesdays, SHS teachers offer “office hours” from 9-11 a.m. and 12-2 p.m. Office hours are a time for students to ask teachers questions via phone or email to get extra help.
“Doing my classes at home and being able to move at my own pace throughout the day makes me feel motivated and less stressed out about due dates and assignments piling up,” junior Brayden Mustion said.
Unfortunately, the April 8 announcement left many activities for students, especially the Class of 2020, up in the air. What about graduation? Prom? Spring sports?
Following the Oregon Department of Education rules set in place, SHS announced on Thursday, April 9 that all seniors who were passing when school was initially let out (March 13) would receive their passing grade for semester two of 2020.
“Seniors achieving a passing grade prior to the school closure will receive a P and credit for each passing course. Seniors not yet passing prior to the closure will be given opportunities to improve their percentage in order to avoid losing credit and receiving an I on their transcript,” Principal Kim Ball said in an email sent to seniors and their parents. In addition seniors who were signed up for college credit can decide to continue to earn the credit or not. Seniors were sent official letters from their counselors detailing their graduation status the following week.
In addition to missing out on many in-school SHS traditions like Prom, Mr. Doernbecher and Decades, on April 17, the District announced via ParentSquare that the graduation ceremony on June 12 would be a “virtual” event. Seniors will still be getting caps and gowns (to be distributed on May 8) and will then upload a picture of themselves wearing their graduation attire for acknowledgement during the ceremony. Many options were considered and the District is still looking for other ways to celebrate the graduates.
“Our decision, of course, was made in consideration of social distancing mandates and, topmost – your health and safety. At this time, we believe a large group gathering would simply not be safe for you and your family to attend. We grieve with you for how this pandemic has necessitated changes in our celebrations,” the announcement said.
In addition to school closures for the rest of the 2020 school year, all spring sports were cancelled by the OSAA.
“I was really looking forward to my last softball season ever. I needed that closure with the sport after playing since I was about 5,” senior Jordynn Allinger said. For most spring athletes it was going to be the last time they ever stepped on the field, track, or court. “I would do anything to be on the field one last time,” Allinger said.
The progression to this point in the pandemic transpired quickly. On Jan. 21, the Center for Disease Control announced the United States had its first case of the coronavirus commonly known as COVID-19. From that day on the battle has not been easy. Oregon announced its first case on March 3. As of April 23, there had been over 860,000 total cases of COVID-19 reported in the United States and over 48,000 deaths. In Oregon, there have been over 2,000 reported cases and 78 deaths (source: worldometers.info).
As a result of Oregon’s battle with COVID-19, on March 12, Gov. Kate Brown closed all schools until April 1. The advance of the virus in the following days convinced the state to extend closures until April 28. At that point, ODE required schools to provide students with optional “supplementary learning” materials that would not be graded. OTSD then began an elaborate effort to distribute Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to students and families so they could participate.
Shortly after that effort began though, ODE switched course and ordered schools to prepare “distance learning” programs which would commence on April 13. These programs would be for credit and essentially function as online school. SHS teachers began calling all parents of students in their Advisory classes to assess their ability to participate and their technology needs. Early action enabled SHS to start distance learning a week before many districts.