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Ashland School District targets March reopening

The Ashland School District will unveil a reopening proposal that will include a four-half-days-per-week in-person instruction schedule for kindergarten through fifth-grade students, slated to begin March 1 for kindergarten through second-grade students and March 8 for third- through fifth-graders.

The plan for the district’s middle- and high-schoolers is “coming soon,” with a target start date of March 29, according to a reopening update posted by the district Friday.

The first version of Ashland’s elementary reopening called for two half-days per week of in-person instruction, but Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove said ASD decided to double its in-person offerings based on local survey results.

Regarding whether families’ comfort level is tied to the vaccine distribution, Bogdanove said it’s hard to know for sure but the comment box attached to every survey question has yielded at least a few more specific answers.

“It’s hard to really predict what concerns are,” he said. “Some parents have expressed concerns about that, some are going more based on the science and the fact that basically with the COVID precautions in place schools really are not sites of significant spread.”

According to Bogdanove, about 70% of respondents expressed “an interest” in returning to in-person instruction. The survey targeted K-5 families. A second survey asking about the district’s updated reopening model is in the works and will be sent out to families in the next day or two, Bogdanove said.

The district is still waiting for the results from a similar survey for families of students in grades six through 12.

A community information and input session on the K-5 hybrid model will be held Wednesday night from 5 to 5:45 p.m. in English, and from 6 to 6:45 p.m. in Spanish. Links are available on the district's website.

Bogdanove said a little more than half of the district’s staff of 400 have received the first shot in the two-shot COVID-19 vaccination series.

“The other thing that I’d say about that is very honestly, Jackson County and Asante and Providence and Rogue Community Health have all just been amazing partners in this in terms of how rapidly and how efficiently they’ve made vaccines available to education staff,” he said. “We initially had some concerns about supply chains as (Gov. Kate Brown) had indicated, but they’ve done a tremendous job of acquiring the vaccine and then getting it distributed rapidly.”

Like other districts, Ashland’s reopening will not be tied to the vaccine’s distribution.

Bogdanove said the original plan was to at least partially reopen schools for students in kindergarten through second grade in mid-February, “but because so many of our teachers chose to get vaccinated we felt that it was reasonable to allow them to complete that immunity period, so we bumped it out to March 1.

“But once everybody has had the opportunity (to get vaccinated), really the biggest protective factor is making sure everyone in schools are wearing masks, staying socially distanced, washing hands. And what the data has shown is that if you do those things consistently there isn’t much spread in schools.”

Ashland School District is preparing for a return to in-person instruction.