Educators, parents and teachers take another ‘back-to-school’ shot


Springfield teachers and staff wait in the post-vaccine area on Saturday to ensure there were no side-effects after receiving their first dose.

Area school districts are taking slightly different approaches based on their needs as Lane County revisits “Back to School” experiences.

“What keeps me up at night is how I am going to get kids back in school,” Creswell schools superintendent Mike Johnson said. 

South Lane School District superintendent Dr. Yvonne Curtis said everything is being done with “safety in mind.” She announced that hybrid teaching and learning will be delayed until March 1. 

Here’s a recap of what area school districts are doing: 


Springfield Public Schools have been prepping buses for upcoming cohorts for kindergarteners and first graders to return to in-person learning on Feb. 4. Second graders will go back to class on Feb. 8, and third graders on Feb. 11. Sixth through 12th grades continue with remote learning. 

The largest bus size will carry 22 students maximum, with students sitting three feet apart. Siblings and members of the same household may sit together. Split-house custody will be accommodated with exceptions for that student to take two buses.  

“It’s critically important that families understand: you can’t just show up at your bus stop anymore,” said Jenna McCulley, SPS community engagement officer. “You have to register so we know we have the right number.”


Pattie Smith, SPS transportation router, led efforts last week to clean buses ahead of the students’ return to school.

Mike Schosiler, operations manager, said students have assigned seats, and the schools have that roster emailed to them every morning so they know which order to load the students in that same afternoon.

They’ve developed a strict checking protocol, McCulley said. If a positive COVID-19 case appears, they will know how to track the case before an outbreak.


CSD continues to expand its limited in-person learning at all levels kindergarten through 12th grades, bringing in students through a phased approach. 

A full return to in-person learning is anticipated on Feb. 22 for kindergarteners and March 1 for first graders. CHS and middle school students will continue on with comprehensive distance learning. The second term for CHS begins on Feb. 8. Athletics continue with sports conditioning workouts for CHS and is expanding to middle school early this month.

“Because Lane County is in the extreme risk category we can bring one grade level in at a time,” Johnson said. Each child will have a 35-foot parameter of space around their desk, cutting classroom size down by a third. With class sizes usually ranging from 25-29 students, Creslane classes will serve only 8-10 students at once, Johnson said.  


Dr. Curtis expects that all staff serving students at pre-K to 1st grade will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated by March 1.

“This (delay) will give staff time for in-depth training and practice specific to the roles they serve,” Curtis said. “While staff are eager to have their students back … safety is important to everyone. We want to ensure every staff member is confident in implementing all health and safety protocols.” 

The hybrid model is not “school as usual,” Curtis said, as students will only attend for three hours a day and will still have asynchronous work to complete at home.

Emma Routley contributed to this report. 



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