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Distance learning coming to Oregon

By April 13, school districts must be provide education for every student through distance learning.

COURTESY THE BULLETIN - Oregon public instruction will resume — virtually or by other non-personal means — April 13.Colt Gill, who heads the state Department of Education, acknowledged this week that the original expectation was that coronavirus might cause students to miss a few days of instruction. As when snowstorm or forest fires close schools, the students likely would make up some days during the summer.

Now there is a strong possibility that school buildings will not reopen before this school year ends. Gill announced that by April 13, school districts must be providing education for every student through distance learning — online or other means.

The decision came after the department backtracked on guideance that had closed Oregon's virtual charter schools as a measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. Those schools were shuttered along with brick-and-mortar buildings when Gov. Kate Brown originally ordered schools closed last month.

The department said last week that the virtual schools could resume instruction as long as they didn't accept new students, and helped their host districts provide supplemental materials to homebound students. It also said any school district could provide distance learning.

In implementing distance learning, Gill said that Oregon is leaning on the experience of Kansas, California, Texas and especially Washington state.