Oregon’s largest school districts are still offering online learning

Salem-Keizer Public Schools EDGE online program administrators say some students are succeeding through online school

SALEM, Ore. — KGW has checked schools multiple times this year as in-person learning has resumed. But some students never returned to a physical school and instead opted to continue attending school online.

KGW reached out to Salem-Keizer Public Schools, Beaverton Schools and Portland Public Schools to get an idea of ​​plans for next year. The three districts, among the largest in Oregon, plan to continue offering an online option for students.

Artonya Gemmill and Christine Bowlby are both co-senior co-directors of the Salem-Keizer Public Schools Online EDGE Program. They say EDGE is in its second year and things are going well.

“We are just under about 2,000 K-12 [students]. It still makes us one of the largest online programs in the state,” Bowlby said.

They say the kind of education students get through EDGE isn’t the same as the full distance learning many parents remember from 2020.

“People often equate our program with full distance learning and it’s not exactly the same. Are there similar components? Yes. But we are really really an online school. So students have the opportunity to take live classes every day, Monday through Friday,” Gemmill said.

Students can choose between two tracks, one has more live teacher interaction and the other is more of a self-directed track. They said that many students are successful online.

“We’ve seen our students either right next to other kids in the district or even above them in some areas,” Gemmill said.

“Just recently, over 40% of our high school students were on the honor roll. We had about 28% of our high school students on the honor roll,” she said.

While a number of public school districts expect in-person enrollment to decline next year, Gemmill and Bowlby said they don’t expect the same.

“We see about the same number of students saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to come back in person next year. That’s about the same number of families saying, “Hey, we’d love to come online next year,” Bowlby explained.

She and Gemmill said that because of the feedback they’ve received, they plan to try to give students more opportunities to meet in person for things like field trips or social gatherings with friends. peers. As it stands, EDGE students can participate in extracurricular activities related to the school they would attend if they chose to attend in person.

They also said that the EDGE program offers students the opportunity to meet with counselors to help students with anxiety. Younger and older students have class time dedicated to social-emotional learning, helping students recognize and manage feelings of anxiety or produce healthy interpersonal relationships. For primary school students, it is daily. Older students have this opportunity twice a week.

A Portland Public Schools spokesperson said its Online Learning Academy serves about 600 students and, like other districts, plans to keep a virtual learning option in place for next year.

Both Beaverton Schools, along with Salem-Keizer Public Schools, plan to keep the online learning option available long-term, as both districts had planned to have an online learning platform before. even the pandemic.

Registration for next school year’s online learning is now open for Salem-Keizer and Beaverton Schools. Families in Salem-Keizer Public Schools have until March 31 to register and families in Beaverton have until April 17. Portland Public Schools plans to open enrollment for its Online Learning Academy in May.

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