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Parents weighing back-to-school safety measures and online options

"I would like to see an actual checklist; I don't want a bunch of blah blah blah," one parent told KEZI.

Posted: Aug 17, 2021 7:49 PM
Updated: Aug 17, 2021 7:53 PM

EUGENE. Ore. -- After a tough year and a half, Oregon schools welcome students back in just a few weeks. But many parents are still on the fence about whether to send their kid back into the classroom while COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Some parents told KEZI they need more answers as to what exactly school districts will be doing to keep their children safe.

Eugene School District 4J parent Jarl Berg said they are in limbo right now. He said he doesn't see the logic in going back to school buildings, and he's demanding answers from the district.

Last week, 4J sent out an email saying all students and staff must wear a mask indoors at all times. But Berg said parents need more information in order to confidently decide to send their kids to school this fall.

"I would like to see an actual checklist; I don't want a bunch of blah blah blah. Nobody needs that. We are in a day and age where people want it now," Berg said. "I want simple, clear, 'Here is what we are doing to keep your child safe, mitigate the risk at the greatest level we possibly can,' and then here is the list."

Berg said that this list would give parents a clear picture and map as to what moving forward looks like. He also said he is all for a hybrid system because it allows students to be spread out while still getting that face-to-face learning.

Kerry Delf, 4J's chief of staff, said they are excited to be opening up their classrooms this fall for full-time in-person learning. Delf told KEZI she recognizes the fears parents have sending their kids back into the classroom, but she said she's confident in their system and keeping everyone as safe as possible.

She said they'll strongly enforce masks and three feet of physical distancing, and there will be limited interaction between cohorts -- smaller groups of students. They'll also continue with increased ventilation and purifiers, and regular sanitizing of high-touch areas will take place throughout the day.

"With those layer prevention strategies, you can think of that like taking slices of Swiss cheese, where each slice has some holes in it, but by stacking them on top of each other, you can help to reduce the number of holes and the ability for the virus to spread," Delf said. "That is why those measures are so important to have in schools as well as everywhere else."

Some school districts, including 4J, will offer online options for families who aren't ready for their students to return. For 4J, the deadline to request one of the online learning options is Aug. 23.

Sarah Singleton, a 4J parent and a teacher, said her kids will be going back to the classroom, but she respects both ways of learning: in-person and remote. She said she trusts the school districts and that parents should too. However, she realizes parents are in a tough spot right now with the virus and said many people have moved to online learning for this fall.

Either way, Singleton said she believes this will be a successful school year.

"We just don't want to devalue any kind of learning, whether it's learning from home or learning from academics in school, children are always learning, and we can't discredit that at all," Singleton said.

She told KEZI she wants parents to know the classroom is safe and that everyone has the best interest at heart for all students.

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