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November 2021 Education Update

Oregon Achieves... Together!

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

ODE Director Colt Gill 

We are now experiencing fall weather across the state and winter is on its way in Oregon. When that happens it leads to a couple of behaviors:

  • We layer-up to protect ourselves from the cold, wind, and wet weather.
  • We spend more time indoors, where COVID-19 – especially the Delta variant – spreads more easily.

This is an important time to add one more behavior: layer up our COVID-19 mitigation protocols as we move indoors.

On November 1, we released a School Health Advisory for November through December and it addressed layering up safety protocols for schools. To reduce spread and the number of students and staff excluded from school due to quarantine after a close contact, each school should review their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (available on this webpage) to:

  • Enhance implementation of current layers (examples include reviewing contact logs, class and bus seating charts, transition activities, and mealtime practices for improvement).
  • Work with health partners to offer vaccination clinics allowing all eligible children to vaccinate as soon as possible to reduce spread of COVID-19 in the school community and reduce the impact of quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. Vaccinations can be especially helpful during the winter holiday season when many families will gather indoors where COVID-19 can spread more readily.
  • Families with school-age children and educators should limit gatherings and non-essential activities with people from other households to the extent possible throughout November and December. If you are visiting people from another household, you should wear a mask, maintain a physical distance of 6 feet, and keep activities outdoors to the degree possible.
  • To the extent possible, schools and other organizations should reduce extracurricular activities. If schools and other organizations proceed with extracurricular activities, especially as these activities move indoors, they should consider implementing additional precautions like face coverings and physical distancing.
  • Schools should hold events (parent/family conferences, fundraisers, etc.) online, rather than in-person. If events are held in-person (dances, carnivals, etc.), strive to hold the events under covered areas outside, ensure all participants wear masks, and maintain physical distancing of 6 feet to the extent possible.
  • We know that students’ mental, physical, social, and emotional health is best served when they can be in schools for full-time, in-person instruction. It’s incumbent upon us to use every tool we have to ensure that in-person learning can continue.

    Right now, the best tools to protect everyone in a school building are:

    And there’s another vital component, without which none of this works: The dedicated and amazing educators, administrators and staff in our school buildings who all work together to provide a safe, welcoming environment. Their heartfelt, relentless dedication to students cannot be overstated.

    We need to remain vigilant to ensure that the mitigation layers are in place and maintained, especially with colder temperatures bringing people together inside more often. If we want to keep our schools open and safe, we need to layer up our protections against COVID-19 the same way we layer up against the cold and rain.

    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 the bill 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 again this op-ed from last year 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!

    OSAC Scholarship and Grant Applications Open for 2022-23 School Year

    The Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) has officially opened the OSAC Scholarship Application for the 2022-2023 academic year. As of today, students can now apply for OSAC Scholarships, the Oregon Promise Grant, the Oregon Child Care Grant and even more state grant programs at OregonStudentAid.gov.

    OSAC administers more than $130 million in state-funded grants and privately-funded scholarships to help Oregon students meet their college expenses.

    Many scholarships and most grants require completion of either a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA). Every new and returning student must complete one of these two applications to be considered for state and/or federal financial aid, including loans. Most students applying for aid complete the FAFSA to determine their state and federal financial aid eligibility. Students with undocumented status, including those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, instead fill out the ORSAA—Oregon’s alternative to the FAFSA. The information provided on the FAFSA or the ORSAA will determine students' eligibility for the Oregon Promise, the Oregon Opportunity Grant, and numerous scholarships. Information provided on the ORSAA is secure and confidential, and shared only with Oregon colleges and universities that students list on the ORSAA.

    OSAC strongly encourages students to apply for financial aid as soon as possible to maximize their opportunities to be awarded. If students have any questions about financial aid, they can reach out to OSAC. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions can also be found at OregonStudentAid.gov.

    Reminder: Stabilization Grant Opportunity to Assist Child Care Providers

    December 31 is the deadline for child care providers in Oregon to apply for child care stabilization grants through the Early Learning Division (ELD). Oregon received approximately $224 million in grant funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to be paid directly to eligible providers struggling during COVID-19.

    “Child care providers have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, continuing to care for children while navigating uncertainty about the virus and facing challenges in hiring and retaining staff,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee. “We hope these funds will provide some much needed relief to offset increased expenses, but we know this doesn’t go far enough. Congress must continue to provide the resources needed to sustain our child care system so providers can continue offering quality care to Oregon families.”

    Funding will be available to a broad range of providers, including licensed family child care, center-based care, and license-exempt providers receiving child care subsidies. To be eligible for these funds, providers must be currently open and operating. The funding cannot be used to start a new program. To be considered for the grant, providers must complete an application on ELD’s website by December 31, 2021. Award amounts will vary based on provider type and other criteria.

    Child care providers may use the grants to cover a range of expenses such as personnel costs, rent or mortgage payments, COVID-related supplies, training and professional development related to health and safety practices, mental health supports, and reimbursement of costs associated with the current public health emergency.

    Frequently Asked Questions are posted to ELD’s website. Providers can also email ELD or call 971-707-2029 (Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) with questions.

    Student Spotlight

    Celebrating Oregon’s 2022 Teacher of the Year Finalists

    In addition to honoring 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year Ethelyn Tumalad this fall, the Oregon Department of Education, in partnership with the Oregon Lottery, is pleased to celebrate the 2022 Oregon Teacher of the Year Finalists: Wes Crawford from Sutherlin High School in Sutherlin, Kerryn Henderson from Parkrose High School in Portland, and Carolyn Whitney from Frenchglen School in Frenchglen. These three exceptional teachers, as well as their schools, received a $2,000 cash prize!

    The pivotal role of teachers has become especially evident over the past 20 months as schools continue to navigate the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon teachers have stepped up in countless, innovative ways to ensure students are safe, healthy and engaged, and they are always deserving of recognition and gratitude!

    Remember to Nominate!

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

    Educator Advancement Council Update

    The EAC Retreat: At its annual Retreat, the Educator Advancement Council named four new Directors. Congratulations to Joshua Davies, Deejay Juarez, Jana Giles, and Traniece Brown-Warrens. Later at the retreat, the Council took a deep dive into policy and work alignment and considered the pitfalls of misalignment and a strategy forward. Read more about the Retreat.

    Funding Available: 

    • Oregon Administrator Scholars Program: Through support from the Educator Advancement Council (EAC), the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) has been able to award $10,000 to 153 BIPOC educators pursuing their administrative licensure. The date for the next round of scholarship applications for teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers is November 22nd! Secondary scholarships are also available for recipients who have remaining educational expenses. For more information, check the TSPC website.
    • Oregon Teacher Scholars Program: Through support from the Educator Advancement Council (EAC), the Oregon Teacher Scholar Program (OTSP) offers a scholarship of $10,000 per school year for ethnically diverse or Heritage Speakers of a language other than English. The next round is now open! You can get information on the timeline each year and for more information, check the EAC website.

    Spotlights on REN Work: Columbia REN begins its journey to integrate Tribal History/ Shared History curriculum regionally, alongside other regions, as part of integrating REN work with other ODE initiatives. As RENs build these integrations, they also look across the state to integrations and networking with other regions and RENs. Read more about this work.

    2021 Administrator of the Year Award

    On November 5, the Oregon School Counselor Association (OSCA) recognized Dr. Joel Hoff, Assistant Superintendent for Crook County School District and the Crook County High School Administrative Team with the 2021 Administrator of the Year Award. The award recognizes an outstanding educational leader who has made a significant contribution to support the school counseling profession, developed or implemented an innovative program incorporating school counseling or worked in collaboration to make improvements in school counseling programs and services.

    The Crook County High School counselors, Brittney Haddon, Ann Kaseberger, and Darin Kessi, shared the following about Dr. Hoff and the administrative team:

    Joel Hoff has been an integral part and catalyst to the upward trajectory of our district and specifically Crook County High School. He served CCHS as assistant principal beginning in 2012 until 2019 when he started his current role at the district.

    Joel was and continues to be a huge advocate for the CCHS counseling department. He understands our students and their varying needs and he recognizes and appreciates the unique value and opportunity that counselors in our district bring to their schools. He supports our department in the midst of the re-creation of our comprehensive school counseling program acknowledging and supporting our needs and advocating for this venture. We feel so fortunate to have such a leader within our district who we know is championing for each member within the district whether that be student, staff, parent or patron.

    Our CCHS Admin Team includes principal Michelle Jonas, assistant principals Jason Ritter and Jake Huffman and Athletic Director Rob Bonner. Together they are fierce advocates for CCHS students and families. They support the counseling team by giving us autonomy to infuse our own strengths into our department and school to best serve students. The CCHS counseling department is grateful for our Admin Team for the commitment that they continue to show us as we find new ways to turn obstacles into opportunities for our school and community.

    Oregon’s Framework for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs, updated in 2018, provides a coherent guide for school districts, linking school improvement efforts to the program goals and service delivery. The Framework supports districts in creating and maintaining a comprehensive school counseling program as a required element of the school support system. Crook County School District is a great example of district leadership and building administrators working in collaboration with their school counselors, school social workers, and the multidisciplinary team. Together they design, deliver and implement comprehensive school counseling programs in order to determine whether programs are updated and fully in place at the district and building level for all schools in order to meet Division 22 Assurance of Compliance. The Comprehensive School Counseling Program Evaluation, completed annually, provides the opportunity to determine the stage of implementation and effectiveness of the school counseling program in comparison with Oregon’s Framework for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs. The findings help school counselors, school social workers and other counseling staff identify strengths and areas for growth of the school counseling program and provide direction for continued program improvement.

    The Oregon Department of Education expresses gratitude to Crook County School District for prioritizing and engaging in the continuous improvement process of the Comprehensive School Counseling Program. For more information from ODE, please contact Beth Wigham, Ed.D, CCR/School Counseling Programs Education Specialist.

    ODE In the News