Statement on School Closure in Oregon 4/9/2020

Dear Superintendents and Principals,

Thank you for your continuing efforts to maintain care, connection, and some continuity of learning for our students. You are leading in a time that none of us have experienced. Students, families, staff and community are looking to you for answers and leadership. I hear stories from across the state about your efforts to deliver meals and provide support in a myriad of ways. I’m proud to serve with you at this historic time.

Governor Kate Brown’s announcement today closing in-person classes for the rest of the school year is not what any of us hoped for; however, it is a step that gives us certainty. As Governor Brown said, “the best thing we can do for the health of our children, and for the thousands of educators across the state, is to give everyone certainty by announcing the decision today to close in-person classes for the remainder of the school year.”

I know you have been busy preparing to make the best of this challenging situation. These incredible circumstances don’t change our mission, just our approach. Through Distance Learning for All we will continue to:

  • First connect with our students and families;
  • Then understand their physical needs for food, shelter, clothing;
  • Then strive to support their social-emotional and mental health needs; and
  • Then do what we got into this work for and what our children need in these times - light young minds in Oregon and prepare them for a bright future.

The effort carries significant challenges and through them we will center on equity. Nothing can replace the in-person schooling experience, and we should not expect that remote learning can replicate the traditional school day. As Oregon educators we hold ourselves to high standards and in this circumstance we need to level set. We should extend ourselves and try harder than ever to connect with our students and families, but we need to give ourselves grace and understand that our delivery and support will look different. Our school house doors were open to every single student in our state, and as we implement Distance Learning for All I strongly believe we must strive to ensure our education services are accessible to every student in our state. And, I understand this will be more difficult than ever before.

We must do all we can to meet the needs and strengths of students of color, American Indian students, students with disabilities, emerging bilingual students, talented and gifted students, and students navigating poverty and houselessness.

Thank you for your partnership in these times. Please continue reaching out to me and my team.

Sincerely,

Colt Gill

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