Philomath Middle School and Philomath High School
Philomath Middle School and Philomath High School students will transition into hybrid learning on April 6, according to plans announced by Superintendent Susan Halliday. (Photos by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Philomath Middle School and Philomath High School students will transition into hybrid learning on April 6, Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday announced Friday.

“We are very excited to prepare for the return of our older students to our campuses,” Halliday wrote in a letter to parents, adding that they would be contacted by individual schools about specifics.

“This length of time provides us with the ability to demonstrate a solid amount of weeks required to show successful implementation at our elementary levels,” Halliday said while going through the various considerations that led to choosing April 6.

Also factoring into the decision was additional school bus availability that Halliday said will allow the district to avoid scrambling to get students to and from school. Creating a slight buffer following spring vacation for secondary students to quarantine, if needed, was also mentioned.

The April 6 hybrid start “aligns with the start of the fourth quarter for our middle school students,” Halliday said. “As was an earlier consideration for high school students, we do not want to mix the closing of a grading cycle with what will feel much like the beginning of the school year.”

The district is currently in hybrid mode for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The K-3 students headed into Clemens Primary and Philomath Elementary beginning Feb. 23. The fourth graders went back this past Tuesday and the fifth graders on Thursday.

Through the hybrid model, students attend through a cohort approach with each group on campus two days per week.

“It is so nice for our elementary families to have a choice between hybrid and CDL (comprehensive distance learning) instructional models,” Halliday said in the letter to parents. “For those students returning to our school facilities, we have so enjoyed having you with us and we appreciate your diligence to following all the essential requirements.”

Halliday encouraged families to consider quarantining following any out-of-state travel over spring break.

“While not required, it continues to be strongly encouraged by the Benton County Health Department,” she said.

Halliday said that any parents who want their students to ride the bus need to call Mid Columbia Bus Co., at 541-929-5474. Students need to be registered for bus transportation no later than March 31.

Halliday’s release of the middle school and high school plans comes hours after Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement requiring schools to make hybrid or in-person instruction available in the coming weeks. Philomath meets all deadlines, Halliday said.

Halliday commented on families choosing to stay with comprehensive distance learning.

“If there is any concern about our continuation of CDL for some of our students, we are still absolutely fine to offer this option,” Halliday said. “We are providing universal access for our students to return to our school facilities. Those remaining in CDL are doing so by family choice and not solely school district choice.”