EMMA ROUTLEY/CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Creslane Elementary was ready to accommodate 6-foot distance requirements when students were first returning to in-person learning. Below, students are encouraged to wash their hands.

Creswell School District aims to fill classes with more students, now that CDC permits 3 feet of desk space between students instead of 6 feet. While this allows for more students back in the classrooms, it’s not a plan without obstacles.

Issues such as transportation, mealtime spacing, and teacher availability were up for consideration at the CSD April 14 board meeting.

The 3 feet of desk space will remain regardless of county risk-level status, unless there is an outbreak. Currently, an outbreak qualifies as 5 or more cases within a building, or 2 cases within a group. 

“Our goal is to increase on-site and in-person learning time with teachers and students,” Superintendent Mike Johnson said at the April 14 board meeting. “We want to do it with safety.” 

The district is checking with parents to see if they would be interested in sending their children back for in-person instruction if the district decides to increase the amount of in-person days or the length of instructional days.

EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLE

“Each building is unique in how they’re going to change their times, their schedules and their procedures of how they’re going to address Comprehensive Distance Learning while increasing in-person instruction,” Johnson said. 

Students within the Creswell school district are either adapting to a new schedule change or are about to receive new options.

Creswell Middle School Principal Julie Johansen sent a letter to CMS families on April 16 about the upcoming changes, stating an increase in hybrid on-site instructional hours will begin May 10. Students can opt for one of three options for the rest of the school year: Hybrid In Person Instructional (extended) on-site learning, Comprehensive Distance Learning (online only), and Creswell Online Academy.

Similarly at Creswell High School and Creslane Elementary, schedule changes have already been implemented. As of March 29, Creslane invited K-5 grades to start hybrid learning and continues to serve 95 CDL students and 38 COA students, said Principal Amy Halley’s March newsletter.

Beginning April 19, CHS Hybrid students meet four days a week vs. the previous two days. The announcement from Principal Jenny Collins said families were sent a survey to determine willingness to return to in-person learning, and 250 responses said yes. 

It is not a plan without obstacles, and transportation is something to consider. With more students able to be in classrooms, transportation schedules will have to change to bring more students to and from campus.

“(Transportation) was our first obstacle,” Johnson said. “The problem is that we’re still limited to the number of students we can have in the buses to 3-foot distancing. We didn’t increase buses, we’re just increasing kids.”

The hope is that as long as the bus schedules are staggered, there is a possibility for accommodating more students.

Another obstacle Johnson addressed was the lack of cafeteria space to suit the 6 feet of space between students that is still required at mealtimes.

“We have to look for other areas for students to have lunch, or other ways to stagger half a classroom to have lunch while the other half stays in the classroom,” Johnson said. 

Comprehensive Distance Learning guidelines require that 50% of learning time be with a teacher. Johnson said as more students are welcomed into the building, it becomes more difficult to split teacher time between students.