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November 2020 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 opportunity to speak with many of you last Friday about the impact of Governor Brown’s Two-Week Freeze on our K-12 Schools and I know there may still be questions about how it impacts our education community.

The Governor’s two-week freeze announcement last week reflects critical measures needed to save lives and flatten the curve given rising cases of COVID-19 in communities throughout the state. The freeze also reflects Governor Brown’s commitment to returning our students to in-person instruction. These measures will help our counties meet the metrics for in-person instruction.

Since the Governor issued her previous “2 Week Pause” on social activities to slow the spread of COVID-19 in several of our counties, there has been an alarming spike in both cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations. A majority of these cases stem from sporadic community spread.

Hospitals are sounding the alarm. In the Portland metro area, hospitals are expecting an influx of COVID-19 patients. Several hospitals have voluntarily halted some elective surgeries to preserve beds and staff capacity. Oregon is in a dangerous situation. Daily case rates are now topping 1,000.

I want to reiterate that K-12 Schools are not directly impacted by the freeze. Congregate homeless sheltering, Youth Programs, Childcare, K-12 Schools, K-12 Sports, Division 1 Athletics and Higher Education operate under sector specific guidance for all risk levels. Schools should continue to follow the protocols and metrics in the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance. Schools that follow protocols like these are very effective at reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

Finally, schools can help this effort by:

  1. Communicating about the west coast travel advisory, and helping staff and students self-quarantine if they traveled. Add a travel question to your entry screening protocols.
  2. Ensure strong Entry and Screening Protocols (RSSL Section 1f and the Exclusion Guide) are in place every single day.
  3. Emphasize the Key Practices for Reducing Spread of COVID-19 in Schools.
  4. Watch for updated K-12 Athletics Guidance in the coming week.
  5. Require work from home opportunities when possible for staff. It is allowable for staff to be on campus to provide in-person instruction, for stable internet, and for other services deemed essential by the employer.
  6. Review your facility use agreements for other sector uses.

Use the ODE COVID-19 inbox for questions.

Again, thank you for all you are doing to support students, families, and educators in these challenging and ever changing times.

November is Native American Heritage Month

There are many resources available to help celebrate Native American Heritage Month and include it in lesson plans. The first stop should be our Senate Bill 13 Tribal History/Shared History page on the ODE website. It is packed with resources from the background on how the bill came about to lesson plans and professional development as well. Bookmark the page because new information is being added regularly. It represents years of collaboration with Oregon’s tribal governments in an effort to tell the entire story of Oregon’s history and the culture of today.

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian network of museums and has pages dedicated to helping K-12 educators. Be sure to check out the resources dedicated to teaching more accurately and thinking more broadly about the Thanksgiving story.

Finally, we wanted to share a recent op-ed in the Oregonian written by Oregon Historical Society Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk. In the article there are links to resources OHS has created, including Experience Oregon which is the cornerstone of their museum experience.

The best part is that all of this information is available year-round. So let Native American Heritage Month be the launching point for continuing to include this perspective in classes throughout the school year!

Celebrating Oregon’s 2021 Teacher of the Year Runners-up

In addition to honoring 2021 Oregon Teacher of the Year Nicole Butler-Hooton this fall, the Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, is pleased to celebrate the 2021 Oregon Teacher of the Year Runners-up: Patrick Getchis from Wy’east Middle School in Hood River, James Jeffrey-West from Madison High School in Portland and Mayra Pelayo from Aiken Elementary in Ontario. These three exceptional teachers, as well as their schools, received a $2,000 cash prize!

The pivotal role of teachers has become especially evident as schools have transitioned to comprehensive distance learning in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers have stepped up in countless, innovative ways to ensure students are safe, healthy and engaged to reach their full potential, making this a fitting opportunity to recognize their excellence throughout the state.

Anyone can nominate a teacher for Oregon Teacher of the Year! If you know an outstanding educator, nominate them today!

Oregon Gets USDA Grant for Summer Food Program for Children

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last month the awarding of $34 million dollars to three states and the Cherokee Nation to “continue exploring ways to alleviate hunger among low-income children during the summer.” Oregon was chosen to continue its Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) program.

Summer EBT provides a monthly benefit to low-income families with children on a debit-type card that can be used throughout the summer for food purchases at stores in their community. This is especially helpful in areas that don’t have traditional Summer Food Service Programs. In Oregon, while nearly 300,000 students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals in the National School Lunch Program, only about one in eight of those students participate in the Summer Food Service Program.

According to the USDA, continuing the funding to programs has shown to be successful, allowing them to continue their projects in order to innovate and provide deeper insights into effective program operations.

Student Spotlight

People Behind the Partnership

ODE partners with school districts to foster equity and excellence for every learner. In these videos ODE staff share their perspective on their work and let Oregonians see the people behind the partnership. Here is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Specialist Dan Findley talking about:

Oregon Launches “Find Child Care Oregon,” a New Child Care Referral Database

Oregon’s child care referral database, “Find Child Care Oregon,” is getting a new look and update on Nov. 16, 2020. The database is used to collect and track child care program information and provide families with child care referrals. The new database includes improvements for user experience and replaces the former national database, NACCRRAware, a system used statewide for the last 15 years.

The system updates include the following changes:

  • Provide families with more information and customized results for child care programs in their area.
  • Give providers direct access to update program information (coming in 2021).
  • Support data alignment with partner applications and provide partners with limited access to system reports.

Find Child Care Oregon aims to increase access to child care information and expand support for families across the state. With these updates, more families may have an opportunity to connect with child care programs and discover community resources.

“The goal is to make it easier for families to find child care in their neighborhood using a web search with comprehensive information about the programs,” said Margie McNabb, Professional Learning System Specialist at the Early Learning Division. “Access to these critical supports are especially important for families during the pandemic.”

The Research Institute (TRI) at Western Oregon University will provide support, technical assistance, and training to help users navigate the system updates. For more information and to view a summary of system updates, visit their website.

ODE In the News

U.S. Census Bureau Offers Free Resources for Teachers

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program offers teachers free and engaging activities for use in subjects such as math, geography, sociology, English, and history. Incorporating SIS materials into the classroom can help increase students’ statistical literacy and prepare students for a data-driven world. It continues to provide fun and interactive resources that incorporate real-world data into student experiences, whether in person or through virtual learning. Teachers across the country have found innovative ways to use SIS activities, videos, and colorful maps in their classrooms, and we invite you to do the same! Visit today to find resources you can use in your lessons.