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May 2022 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

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

ODE Director Colt Gill 

I had the honor last week of accompanying Governor Kate Brown at North Star Elementary School in Bend to kick off Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s important to recognize the work teachers do day in and day out, especially considering what we’ve all been through the last two years. Our teachers have shown great strength and resiliency to overcome the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate their work and will never take it for granted.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona pointed out that Teacher Appreciation Week should also be a time of reflection to remember the teachers that were important in our lives as well. I took the Thank a Teacher Challenge and created this video to honor the special teachers during my time in school. I will never forget their dedication and commitment that shaped who I am today.

Of course, teachers can’t do it alone. It takes a lot of people to make our schools safe, inclusive, and effective environments for learning. In April we honored our second ever Education Support Professional of the Year. Melinda Torres is the liaison supporting students who are in foster care or are experiencing houselessness for the Coos Bay School District. Her work is an integral part of the goal of our educational system: to meet the needs of each and every student.

Every person working in a school is an educator and has the opportunity to positively impact the lives of all of our students.

ODE is honored to serve all Oregon students, families and educators and takes that responsibility seriously. We are proud of our institutional commitment to educational equity which is a primary mission for every state education agency in the U.S.

Oregon students represent more diverse today than they ever and we need to make sure the education system is designed to welcome, celebrate, and serve every learner. Students learn best when they feel safe in schools. As an education system, we must continue to center equity and connect with underserved communities about how to best serve all students and families. Carrying forward the antiracist and equity focus that is essential to providing equitable and inclusive access to full time, in-person learning for every student, every school day.

Thank you to everyone striving to meet the needs of the more than 500,000 students in schools across Oregon. Know that we value your work and are here to provide any assistance we can as you inspire the next generation to greatness.

Public School COVID-19 Health and Safety for the 2022-23 School Year

ODE sent this press release out on April 28, 2022:

To maintain in-person learning for all public students next school year, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have released resources to support COVID-19 Management in Schools.

Next year, public schools and programs will incorporate what they have learned from two years of managing COVID-19 in schools into locally developed, held and practiced communicable disease management plans. ODE/OHA joint guidance, known as Ready Schools, Safe Learners (RSSL) Resiliency Framework, remains accessible on ODE’s website for schools to use as a reference and reminder of the tools and practices of the last two years. This design provides resources to support local decision-making and essential operational capacity to respond to changes in COVID-19 transmission and keep schools open and children learning from dedicated teachers and staff.

For the 2022–23 School Year

Every public school will have a locally developed COVID-19 Management Plan. ODE, OHA and the Oregon School Nurses Association (OSNA) co-developed this template, instructions and tools to help schools craft their plan. The template combines what schools already do locally and verifies they are ready to:

  • Prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from increases in COVID-19 transmission.
  • Ensure continuity of instruction for all students, regardless of support needs.
  • Ensure continuity of learning during and after periods of increased COVID-19 transmission.
  • Communicate their plan to staff, students, families, and community.

Schools will craft a plan designed to meet the needs of all students, and in particular those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Building on the lessons learned over the past two years, schools will develop plans closely tailored to the needs of their students. The template aids schools in their ongoing efforts to prioritize care, connection, and community and to support the mental, emotional, and social health and well-being of students, families, and staff.

Decision-making remains local. Maintaining decision-making at the local level allows school district leaders and local public health authorities to work together to respond to local COVID-19 conditions. ODE and OHA will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission and may take state action to protect the public’s health and maintain capacity in Oregon’s hospital systems.

We will move forward together, and continue to build on lessons learned. Over the last two years, Oregon school staff and administrators have focused both on protecting the health and safety of Oregon's students while also attending to their educational and academic needs. From the time the first known case of COVID-19 in Oregon was identified in connection to a school, the education community has balanced these two, equally-important goals. Through it all school leaders have cultivated new partnerships and networks within their community to problem-solve and serve students and their families. The knowledge gained about health and safety and the willingness to embrace new partnerships and continue to lean into difficult conversations will allow Oregon to rethink and renew an education system that supports every student, including students and families disproportionally impacted by COVID-19.

“The Oregon Department of Education set a North Star: to provide equitable and inclusive access to full-time, in-person learning for every student, every school day. A critical way we do this is by implementing measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and other illnesses that may circulate in our community. Through the enormous challenges and losses of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon’s school leaders have innovated, strengthened collaboration, and increased resilience to serve students and families across our state,” said Colt Gill, Director of Oregon Department of Education. “Thank you for your efforts. While COVID-19 is a disease we will continue to live with and manage in schools in the year to come, our schools and our school communities are experienced and equipped to maintain operations while protecting health and safety.”

With science-based planning and prevention strategies in place, schools can reduce the need for school exclusions and ensure that all students have access to a full school year. The School-level COVID-19 Management Plan is designed to align with other health, safety and operations plans schools and districts have in place and will assist in the development and ongoing improvement of key operational responses to COVID-19.

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Like most commemorative months, Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated with Congress. In June 1978, Rep. Frank Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. This resolution proposed that the President should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” This joint resolution was passed by the House and then the Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978 to become Public Law 95-419.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Resources are available to help teach about Asian/Pacific American Heritage:

  • Smithsonian - Care Package, the Asian Pacific American Center's online exhibition curated with love in difficult times. This exhibition includes short films, poems, music and meditations.
  • U.S. Census - Demographic Data on AAPI
  • AAPI Books for Kids - Collection of Reading Rocket Books K-5
  • NYT Lesson of the Day - Asian Americans Grapple With Tide of Attacks

Please contact Amit Kobrowski with any questions or comments.

Jewish American Heritage Month

Jewish Americans have been a part of Oregon since the mid-1800s and have played an important role in the state it is today.

New Program Helps Families Connect to the Web

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission program that helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service. This new benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.

Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail in application.

You can learn more about the benefit, including eligibility and enrollment information, by visiting the FCC website or by calling 877-384-2575.

State Board of Education Student Advisor Opportunity

The Oregon State Board of Education welcomes upcoming high school seniors to apply for a one-year appointment as a student advisor to the Board. This appointment begins August 2022 and ends July 2023. To qualify, students must be a current high school junior (senior during the 2022-23 school year) in good academic standing. As a State Board Advisor, students are expected to attend board meetings beginning in August 2022 and assist the Board in analyzing the policies, proposals and requests before it.

Criteria for Advisor Selection

  • Interest in serving as an advisor for one year
  • Commitment to attend board meetings and any special board functions
  • Willingness to participate in policy discussions
  • Ability to deliberate policy issues
  • Demonstrated leadership qualities

Applications will be reviewed as submitted, and the application portal will remain open until the positions are filled. If you have any questions about this appointment or the application, please review the full announcement or contact State Board Administrator Corey Rosenberg by email.

2022 Statewide In-Service Day

ODE has received many questions about the 2022 Statewide In-Service Day. Please know that each school district determines their own In-Service Days, not ODE.

Schools have traditionally used the second Friday in October. This year that would be October 14. However, there is no statewide date set by ODE. Each school district determines their own In-Service Days and activities.

Student Spotlight

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a cornerstone of education, and essential for students to learn, and teachers to teach. ODE has several exciting initiatives and many resources to support the mental health of all members of Oregon’s school communities in alignment with ODE’s Integrated Model of Mental Health.

We are excited to announce ODE’s $5.5 million Strengthening Mental Health in Education (SMHiE) 2.0 Initiative. In response to community feedback, this collaboration with the Oregon Health Authority, University of Oregon College of Education, ESDs, school districts, students, families, Tribal and local partners, and community-based organizations, will strengthen Oregon’s school-based mental health infrastructure. Stay tuned for the summer 2022 release of Oregon’s free, digital Classroom WISE program and its many video resources, exercises, and tools designed to increase mental health literacy and support the application of strengths-based, trauma- and SEL-informed, equity-centered mental health promotion and suicide and substance use prevention efforts.

Other resources to check out include:

Other notable Mental Health Awareness Month activities include the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments webinar on May 19 at noon PDT on the importance of school-based mental health services in K-12 schools. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is also on a tour around the country to highlight mental health. On May 5, he was in Portland and held a Youth Mental Health Roundtable.

For more information, please send us an email

Military Appreciation Month

Military Appreciation Month takes place every year throughout the entire month of May.

Wildfire Awareness Month

Wildfires have had devastating impacts in Oregon recently and May is designated as the month to prepare for the upcoming fire season.

American Indian/Alaska Native Student Success Plan Transition Grants

Research from the Oregon Indian Education Association and the National Indian Education Association demonstrates that competent and committed educators have the greatest influence on AI/AN student achievement beyond the students’ families. In light of this research, the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Student Success Plan establishes the goal that all Oregon early learning hubs, providers of early learning services, school districts, education service districts, post-secondary institutions of education, community-based organizations and Tribes have a high-performing culture in which employees have the training, support and professional development to contribute effectively to AI/AN student success.

This grant is focused on providing supports to our Native students who are struggling with transitioning through the vulnerable points in their education, Pre-Kindergarten to Kindergarten, Kindergarten to Elementary, Elementary to Middle School, Middle School to High School and High School to Post-Secondary Education. It is a competitive grant, open to non-profits, Tribes, educational entities who are supportive and creatively finding ways to support and encourage the successful movement of our Native students through their educational paths.

The funds can be used for administrative costs, food purchases, events, activities and programs supporting educational advancement. More information about the grants and an application are available online.

For more information, contact Renee Roman Nose.

Have You Heard? ELD Will Soon Become DELC

The Early Learning Division, along with a few Oregon Department of Human Services programs such as Employment Related Day Care, will be changing to the Department of Early Learning and Care (DELC) in about a year. What is the advantage of joining early childhood education systems into one agency? There are several benefits:

  • Maximize early learning funding and expansion opportunities
  • Increase the number of culturally responsive child care and early learning settings
  • Improve access to high-quality child care and early learning for all Oregonians
  • Deliver more equitable services for families, children, and providers

In a nutshell, the creation of DELC allows us to expand and strengthen early learning systems to better serve Oregon’s children and families.

Learn more by visiting the DELC website. You can also check out ELD’s new page on LinkedIn (requires a LinkedIn account to view), where DELC job opportunities will be shared.

Making Tracks to Careers in Sports: A Webinar for 7th-12th grade students

The Oregon22 Local Organizing Committee is hosting a free virtual webinar on Wednesday May 25, from 1:00-2:00 p.m. to talk about their current and past experiences making a career connected to sport and what it is like to work for a global sporting event! Featured panelists to be announced soon.

Register your students online.

The World Athletics Championships are coming to the United States for the first time ever this July! Over 2,000 of the best track and field athletes in the world representing 200-plus countries will come together in a celebration of diversity, human potential, and athletic achievement. This extraordinary showcase will take center stage in the heart and home of the sport of track and field in the U.S: in Oregon, in Eugene, in Hayward Field at the University of Oregon. It takes thousands of employees and volunteers working together behind the scenes to present an event like the World Athletics Championships. Professionals in event management, marketing, finance, technology, security, medical, media, health and sports medicine, and more all work together to bring the 10-day event to life.

Questions? Send them an email!

Applications Being Accepted for Choose Kindness Grants

The Choose Kindness Foundation is offering every elementary, middle, and secondary school in Oregon $750 kindness grants. The funds may be used for classroom or school-wide kindness events or celebrations as well as Teacher Wellness through Kindness activities. The goal of the grant program is to support the development of a culture of caring and kindness throughout the school community. For example, Livy Henriksen, counselor at Edgewood Elementary in Eugene said this about their spreading kindness project. “When talking to students about kindness over the last several weeks, many students shared acts of kindness they practice at home and at school as we are all working to make our community a more inclusive, fun and kind place to be!”

The Eugene-based Choose Kindness Foundation funds kindness programs throughout the United States, reaching 43,000 students in 79 schools—including 15 in Oregon—as well as four urban school districts in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. Small kindness grants to San Antonio and Philadelphia led to those districts investing their own funds to massively expand kindness programs. The director of the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program for Philadelphia said, “While Philly's large, urban context is challenging, it's been so promising to see so much effort go into kindness, social emotional learning, and PBIS with such rich returns in a short period of time that our district has decided to invest heavily in kindness for the 2022-23 school year.”

The foundation also supports programs promoting kindness for social service agencies, public safety, and the workplace.

The foundation grants being offered to Oregon schools will support teaching kindness in classrooms, school-wide kindness campaigns, student-led groups to plan and participate in kindness programs, and activities to support staff self-care and wellness. The Choose Kindness Foundation has a range of resources that will be available to participating schools.

Grant applications must be submitted by June 30, and a report on the project will be due by June of 2023.

For more information, visit the Choose Kindness Foundation website or contact Jane Carter or Alex Granzin.

ODE In the News