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August 2022 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

A Message from the Director of the Oregon Department of Education, Colt Gill

ODE Director Colt Gill 

A year ago ODE encouraged schools to emphasize Care & Connection in the beginning of the school year and to continue promoting care and connection throughout the year. The response was enormous and many schools went above and beyond, making those activities a daily practice throughout the year. We’ve compiled some inspiring examples from across the state from 2021-2022.

As we approach the start of another school year, we’re reintroducing our Care & Connection tools to make sure our schools are healthy, welcoming communities where students can learn, and staff can teach and nurture students. Like last year, we have Care & Connection Activities suggestions and other Care & Connection resources available on our website.

Oregon Classroom Wise

This year, we’ve added a dynamic new resource, Oregon Classroom WISE (Oregon CW), a suite of free print and video resources, guided tutorials, role plays, and interviews with youth and school personnel. This self-guided content for adults and youth is filled with tools for enhancing mental health and well-being and covers many important topics such as building safe, healthy relationships, best practices for supporting youth experiencing life challenges and distress, and skills for handling challenging behaviors.

We encourage you to check out this fantastic suite of resources, share them with school staff, parents, and local partners, and form learning groups to increase mental health promotion knowledge and skills in your community.

Building care, connection, and community takes time, but it is a worthwhile investment as research shows. In addition to providing time to connect with students and families, we ask school administrators to provide staff and educators with permission and ample time to build care, connection and community with each other and with students each day.

Thank you for everything you do to serve students and make the school year a success. Don’t forget all of the new resources we have at ODE to help.

Please reach out if you need any additional support.

OHA No Longer Reporting School Outbreaks

As Oregon enters the fourth school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and local public health authorities are practiced and equipped to manage COVID-19 while maintaining access to in-person learning for every student, every school day.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is no longer producing biweekly reports that include the number of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. Due to the processes required to identify and report an outbreak, OHA’s school outbreak reports do not contain the most up-to-date outbreak information for schools or families, as data are reported retrospectively, in some cases up to several weeks after an outbreak.

These changes do not affect case and outbreak reporting to OHA. Monitoring outbreaks, especially in high-consequence settings, remains a priority for OHA. ODE will continue to work with local public health authorities to provide resources and support during outbreak responses, as appropriate. ODE and OHA continue to recommend that schools notify cohorts potentially exposed to COVID-19 as soon as possible to reduce the risk of spread.

School districts will continue to make local policy decisions about COVID-19 protocols to mitigate spread and ensure in-person learning in their school community, including communicating health and safety measures needed based on illness and absence in their school community. You will be able to find school level COVID-19 management plans on the ODE website beginning August 26.

Oregon Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion Prevention Program

The passage of HB 2166 and SB 236 in July 2021 established the Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion Prevention Program and launched an Oregon study. In 2022, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 5202 and approved funding for the program. The purpose of the Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion Prevention Program is to:

  • Reduce the use of suspension, expulsion, and other forms of exclusionary discipline in early care and education (ECE) programs, and
  • Reduce disparities in the use of suspension, expulsion, and other forms of exclusionary practices in ECE programs based on race, ethnicity, language, ability, or gender.

From April to July 2022, a group of community members formed a Rulemaking Advisory Committee and drafted the new rules for this program. For more information on the Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion Prevention Program, including a background, timeline, and resources, visit the Early Learning Division website. Watch for updates as this program continues to develop.

U.S. Department of Education Releases Proposed Changes to Title IX Regulations, Invites Public Comment

As part of the 50th anniversary of Title IX – the landmark civil rights law that has opened doors for generations of women and girls – the U.S. Department of Education released for public comment proposed changes to the regulations that help elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities implement this vital legislation. The proposed amendments will restore crucial protections for students who are victims of sexual harassment, assault, and sex-based discrimination – a critical safety net for survivors that was weakened under previous regulations. The proposed regulations will advance educational equity and opportunity for women and girls across the country to ensure that every student in America, from kindergarten through a doctorate degree, can achieve her dreams.

The proposed regulations would:

  • Clearly protect students and employees from all forms of sex discrimination.
  • Provide full protection from sex-based harassment.
  • Protect the right of parents and guardians to support their elementary and secondary school children.
  • Require schools to take prompt and effective action to end any sex discrimination in their education programs or activities – and to prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.
  • Protect students and employees who are pregnant or have pregnancy-related conditions.
  • Require schools to respond promptly to all complaints of sex discrimination with a fair and reliable process that includes trained, unbiased decision-makers to evaluate the evidence.
  • Require schools to provide supportive measures to students and employees affected by conduct that may constitute sex discrimination, including students who have brought complaints or been accused of sex-based harassment.
  • Protect LGBTQI+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics.
  • Clarify and confirm protection from retaliation for students, employees, and others who exercise their Title IX rights.
  • Improve the adaptability of the regulations’ grievance procedure requirements so that all recipients can implement Title IX’s promise of nondiscrimination fully and fairly in their educational environments.
  • Ensure that schools share their nondiscrimination policies with all students, employees, and other participants in their education programs or activities.

The Department will engage in a separate rulemaking to address Title IX’s application to athletics.

The proposed Title IX regulations will be open for public comment through September 12. Comments may be submitted online. Additional information on the proposed rule is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

October Deadline for Students to Apply to U.S. Senate Youth Program

Every year, two students from Oregon are chosen to participate in the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP). Qualified high school juniors or seniors must show demonstrated leadership by serving in elected or appointed positions in which they are actively representing a constituency in organizations related to student government, education, public affairs and community service. They must be actively serving in qualified leadership positions, enrolled in high school and living in Oregon for the entire 2022–2023 academic year.

More information is available at the USSYP website.

For Oregon the application is due no later than October 10th 2022. The students selected to represent Oregon receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship and participate in a week-long government and leadership education program. The 61st annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week is planned for March 4-11, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Emerald Ash Borer in Oregon

Submitted by Kristin Ramstad, Oregon Department of Forestry

As you may have heard, the invasive and destructive pest, emerald ash borer (EAB) has been detected recently at a school in Forest Grove. Here are the answers to some of the questions school facility managers, groundskeepers and administrators may have about the pest and how they should prepare for it.

What’s the Big Deal about EAB?
Although ash trees are not one of the most common urban trees in Oregon, tens of thousands of beautiful, large, non-native ashes are growing in parks, yards and school grounds statewide. The experience in other states shows that up to 99 percent of all ash trees in cities and towns die within a few years of the arrival of emerald ash borer. We expect the same will be true in Oregon.

Will the State of Oregon be attempting to eradicate this outbreak?
Given the distance female emerald ash borers can fly, it is almost certain that this pest has already spread too widely in Oregon to eradicate. The focus now is on preventing people from spreading it farther and faster than it would naturally travel. One way all of us can slow the spread of this pest is by reminding everyone: do NOT move firewood - all firewood - beyond the local area where it is cut.

What does the State of Oregon recommend School Districts do about EAB at this point?
Healthy, well cared-for trees around schools contribute to student and staff health in many ways. In addition to providing shade on warm days, trees slow rainwater runoff, cleanse the air, provide opportunities for curricula development and play and can calm anxieties and conflict.

School district facility staff can assist in EAB-slowing efforts by:

  • Familiarizing themselves about the lifecycle, signs, symptoms and appearance of the tiny insect, and knowing how to identify both native and nonnative ash trees (see links at the end of this article). By August, the adult beetles have stopped flying, so look on ash trees for tiny D-shaped exit holes on the trunk and tree limbs, clumpy leaf and branch growth, bark that has been flaked away and dead branches in the tree’s crown.
  • Avoiding planting any more ash trees in schoolyards.
  • Stopping the premature, and preemptive removal of ash trees from schoolyards. Many large and significant ash trees can be and have been conserved by using systemic treatments that kill EAB. These treatments cost a lot less than removing a large tree. Typically, these treatments are implemented when EAB is detected within 15 miles of a given location. Most importantly, no trees should be removed from schoolyards without an EAB preparedness and response (P&R) plan in place. An EAB P&R plan describes not only plans for tree removal, but also strategies for keeping stately ashes alive, disposing of the infested wood and replanting with other trees soon after ash tree removal.

Since experience shows that heavily infested trees cannot be saved, do not waste resources trying to spray or chemically treat infested trees. Prompt removal is advised.

Where should school district staff look for guidance on ash tree treatments?
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), the lead agency in EAB response, regulates pesticide use in Oregon and is developing guidance on what treatments can be safely used in Oregon. These will be available soon. Be aware that some school districts may have local restrictions on certain classes of pesticides, but ultimately, there should be treatments available for most types of situations/restrictions. It’s best to purchase treatments from reputable tree-care companies to avoid ineffective or fraudulent applications.

Should school district staff be actively looking for EAB?
District staff that work around trees should be familiar with the signs and symptoms of EAB, and keep this information “front of mind” when working outside. The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s EAB webpage is an excellent resource for current EAB information. However, it is also important to remember that drought, disease, and other factors can make ash trees look unhealthy, so no one should presume their declining ashes have EAB yet unless its presence has been officially confirmed. Also, there are several native emerald ash borer “look alike” beetles. So, if one sees a green metallic beetle or other EAB signs and symptoms try to document them with clear photos, note the location, and report them to the Oregon Invasives Hotline.

If you have more questions about EAB, please get in touch with us at urbanforestry@odf.oregon.gov. If you want to report a suspected EAB infestation, please use the Oregon Invasives Hotline.

ODE In the News


Requirements and Guidance for Online and Remote Learning Released

In Oregon, the number of online and remote schools have consistently increased over the last two decades. During the 2021-22 school year, enrollment in these schools grew to 4.5 percent of all K-12 public students. While virtual public charter schools enroll a significant proportion of students, most of the new online and remote schools opening in recent years have been initiated by school districts. Based on current trends, it is clear that remote and online instructional models have been and will continue to be an important part of the K-12 education landscape in Oregon.

The purpose of Executive Numbered Memo 001-2022-23 is to publish the Online and Remote Learning Guidance. This new guidance:

  • Clarifies what is required of remote and online schools; and
  • Communicates the value of partnership and accountability – at the local and state level – for how to collectively improve the quality of student learning.

This is the first time Oregon school leaders have guidance pointing to a consolidated list of critical requirements and policies for online and remote learning. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) has observed that some laws and policies get overlooked or missed in the school or program design process even though all of the laws and policies that apply to public schools apply to online and remote schools (with few exceptions for public charter and alternative schools). As ODE has increased capacity to support online and remote learning, there has been an increased recognition of the need for shared learning and clarity in this space.

Critical Requirements and Support from ODE

The Online and Remote Learning Guidance will help school leaders by embedding critical requirements in a framework of design indicators and questions for continuous improvement. ODE’s goal is to support leaders in meeting requirements which are essential to educational equity while also designing for continuous improvement. Some schools will identify areas that need attention to come into compliance, which may implicate Division 22 compliance and assurances for school districts.

ODE will support schools and districts by providing training in using the guidance and associated tools, beginning with the informational webinars linked below. Additionally, companion resources including rubrics and promising practices will be released in the winter of 2023.

The Online and Remote Learning Guidance is a first step. Based on feedback and input, ODE will reissue the guidance for the 2023-24 school year and consider updates to relevant OARs and other policies. Partnership and shared accountability across all parts of the education system are needed to ensure opportunities and outcomes for all students as online and remote learning continues to play an important role in Oregon’s K-12 landscape.

Resources

Next Steps

The Department will:

  • Re-issue updated guidance for the 2023-24 school year and beyond based on additional input.
  • Review relevant OARs and consider working with the State Board of Education to update relevant OARs. This process will include engagement with educators, community members & families, and education partners.
  • Provide training to online and remote school leaders, operators, and educators as well as charter school sponsors in using the Online and Remote Learning

    Guidance and associated tools.

Opportunities to Learn More

New Guidance Helps Schools Support Students with Disabilities and Avoid Discriminatory Use of Discipline

Guidance released from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) helps public elementary and secondary schools fulfill their responsibilities to meet the needs of students with disabilities and avoid the discriminatory use of student discipline. These newly released resources are the most comprehensive guidance on the civil rights of students with disabilities concerning student discipline and build on the Department’s continued efforts to support students and schools through pandemic recovery.

The new resources reflect the concern, particularly in light of the prevalence of student mental health issues associated with the pandemic, that some students with disabilities are not receiving the supports and services necessary to address their educational needs, including their disability-based behavior. The guidance makes clear that schools do not need to choose between complying with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and keeping their school community – including students and staff – safe.

The new resources include:

In developing this guidance and these resources, OSERS and OCR drew from experience with enforcing and administering federal laws relating to students with disabilities, including Section 504 and the IDEA. They also considered information shared by members of the public in response to the June 2021 Request for Information Regarding the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline. Section 504 prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on disability, and the IDEA guarantees that children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE emphasizes special education and related services designed to the needs of children with disabilities and prepare them for further education and employment services and independent living.

Do you have a federal student loan?

If so, you may be able to benefit from temporary changes made to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. These changes, called the “Limited PSLF Waiver,” are helping borrowers across the nation more easily get their loans forgiven – but if you haven’t already applied for PSLF, you must submit a PSLF form and/or consolidate your non-Direct federal student loans by October 31, 2022 to get the benefit. Find out more about the waiver.

What you should know about the Limited PSLF Waiver

  • Allows borrowers to gain additional PSLF credit, even if they had been told previously that they had the wrong loan type or the wrong repayment plan.
  • Gives borrowers credits for past periods of repayment on federal student loans – even loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF (i.e., Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Federal Perkins Loans, Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL), National Defense Student Loans (NDSL), and other types of federal loans that are not Direct Loans) - as long as the borrower consolidates into a federal Direct Loan.
  • Past periods of repayment will now count whether or not you made that payment on time, for the full amount due, or on a qualifying repayment plan. The Department of Education will even count certain periods of deferment and forbearance toward PSLF. You must apply by October, 31, 2022.
  • There’s no specific application for the waiver – you will just need to submit a PSLF form by October 31. If you have non-Direct federal student loans, you’ll need to consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan before October 31 too. Once you have consolidated into the Direct Consolidation Loan program and submitted a PSLF form, you will be automatically opted into the waiver. This means that, if you qualify, you will lock in the benefits of the waiver and start accruing credit towards PSLF. If you previously applied for PSLF and were denied because of your loan type, we encourage you to try again. If you previously applied for PSLF, we encourage you to update your employment certification by completing a PSLF form.

To take advantage of the waiver, take these steps today!

  1. Create an account online if you don’t already have one.
  2. If you have Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Perkins loans, or other federal student loans including FISL or NDSL, you will need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF. Before consolidating, make sure to check to see if you work for a qualifying employer using the PSLF Help Tool.
  3. Submit a PSLF form to certify employment for PSLF that you want credit for through the waiver.
    • In the PSLF Help Tool, it’s important to use the appropriate Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). After the PSLF Help Tool gives you a PDF, please sign and date it and submit it to your organization.

Just a few minutes of your time may save you thousands of dollars on your student loans. Remember, you need to take the steps necessary to qualify for the Limited PSLF Waiver before October 31, 2022.

Take advantage of this opportunity TODAY!

Division 22 Newsletter Launched

ODE's Division 22 Standards Newsletter is a publication designed to provide Oregon district and school leaders with just in time, up-to-date information on Oregon's Standards for Public Schools. The inaugural August 2022 issue includes the following features:

  • New & Noteworthy: Following an extensive engagement process, two of the TAG rules were revised during the last school year. Get the lowdown on the new requirements.
  • Unpack this OAR: What exactly does it mean to provide a coordinated Media Program? We break it down for you, and highlight new resources to support implementation.
  • Standards Spotlight: We shine a light on online and remote learning and how these programs and schools are uniquely impacted by the Division 22 Standards.

You can find the Division 22 Standards newsletter on the Division 22 Standards Professional Learning page.

Student Spotlight