Philomath K-3 students not heading back to classrooms next week

In the latest twist involving Philomath children returning to classrooms, School Superintendent Susan Halliday announced Wednesday that plans to send K-3 students into hybrid learning beginning Feb. 9 have been called off. For now, all students will remain in the comprehensive distance learning program.
In a letter sent out to parents, Halliday said that a specific reopening date will not be set at this time.
“We have set a number of dates to return to school, wanting to communicate our continued desire to get our students back in school,” Halliday said. “As we move forward, I’ve heard, loud and clear, not to set another specific start date that we cannot meet.”
Halliday said that after going through several meetings this week with staff and board representatives, she decided to not return students on Feb. 9 “in the interest of ensuring safety and not promising a specific date from which we back away.”
Halliday said that throughout the school district, people are working to understand and implement all protocols as required in “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” state guidance. In addition, operational plans for each school — beginning with Clemens Primary and Philomath Elementary — will go before the School Board for approval at its Feb. 16 meeting.
“Once approved, we will return our K-3 students to school as soon as possible,” Halliday said.
The school district had previously announced on Jan. 25 that hybrid learning would begin Feb. 9 with those youngest students.
“Following the announcement … there was great disappointment on multiple fronts. Students, staff and families all included,” Halliday said in the letter. “Important relationships were put in jeopardy with the very educator core that drew me to Philomath and has kept me here. I also recognize the absolute importance of the relationship we want to maintain with our students, families and community, seeking to find some semblance of balance of decisions during this pandemic.”
Halliday said she would share updated information with parents on Feb. 9.

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