The Lake Oswego School District has officially started its transition to hybrid in-person instruction for its high school students. In mid-March, the district implemented limited in-person learning for elementary and middle schools, but since mid-April, the policy ultimately became extended to high schools.
In order to comply with building capacity restrictions, the district has divided students into two distinct ‘cohorts.’ Of the students who have registered for hybrid instruction, half attend school in-person for the morning and then head home for virtual instruction, while the other half attend online classes in the morning but recieve in-person instruction in the afternoon. Students and staff members who come for in-person learning are required to wear masks all times, sanitize their desks after use, and practice social distancing. People leaving the classrooms, either for the bathroom or the water fountain, must fill out a Google Form that can later be utilized for contact tracing. In order to minimize unsafe levels of congestion in the hallways, distinct arrows and signs have been installed to guide students to their assigned classes.
One question that must be asked, is the transition to hybrid instruction going as well as the district, staff, students and parents have hoped? Many see room for improvement. For instance, some would like to see the Covid-19 precautions observed more prudently. “All staff and most students consistently comply with the masks and [social] distancing in school/during classes,” says a teacher. However, they were concerned by the inconsistent enforcement of Covid precautions in other areas. “For sports and other activities on-site but not in classrooms with diligent supervision, adherence to Covid protocol is spotty at best” said the teacher. Furthermore, one of the school’s juniors is slightly disappointed by the lack of change in the nature, style, or the format of her classes. “I don’t think teachers have adapted their curriculum to fit the classroom environment; a lot of the work we do is what we’d do on Zoom, but we’re sitting in a classroom to do it instead.”
Nevertheless, teachers and students are mostly optimistic about the transition to in-person learning. One teacher at Lake Oswego High seems to agree that the transition is fulfilling its goal of allowing students to productively socialize. “Students are slowly adjusting and starting to interact more,” they said. The junior had similar opinions. “I think people settled back into the ‘normal’ school routine very well and very quickly.” Another, a science teacher at the school, is confident that the district’s decision to allow in-person learning was the right policy in the first place. “I think it is important for students to have the option to come back to school if they want to.”
The district is aiming to move further with its reopening plans. It has committed to full in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 year.