Roseburg schools will invest a little more than $135,000 in live streaming equipment to allow students access to a classroom from home.

“What this does is that it will help in this transition as we transition back into kind of a little bit more normal space in a hybrid model,” Superintendent Jared Cordon said. “It’ll minimize the disruptions for families in the system to have to reshuffle classes and students, and provide that consistency. The students in a science class at RHS, or in a biology class, and that family decides ‘we’re not comfortable coming back yet, we have some reservations about COVID’ or what it might be. Students can still access that same content with that teacher as if they were in the classroom.”

The live streaming equipment will be installed in all sixth through 12th grade classrooms, before Nov. 2.

Even if health metrics allow schools to stay open those students would be limited to a hybrid schedule due to the guidelines set on a state level. The hybrid schedule would start Nov. 2.

It is the district’s hope that kindergarten through fifth grade will return to full-time in-person instruction by Nov. 2.

Currently, Douglas County is meeting the state health metrics to reopen schools for all grades. But schools will still have to abide by the other guidelines set by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

While the technology will be installed to accommodate students due to state guidelines set to curb the spread of the coronavirus, district officials said it would also be beneficial in a post-COVID-19 world.

“I think the exciting too is future possibilities to have an in-house, in-district online option for families,” board chair Rebecca Larson said. “I know I have a friend who has a child who’s having some hip surgery this year and is going to be out of school for two months. Well, this kind of thing is great, because she doesn’t have to drop out of her classes and she can stay with the same teacher and with her same classmates. And while she’s recovering, participate. So, I think there are a lot of future benefits to this kind of equipment in our classroom.”

Board member Micki Hall shared that when she was 14 years old, she had to stay home for three months following surgery, and at that time she had access to school via a two-way speaker system installed by the phone company.

“In each of the classes, a student took the speaker from my one class, Latin class to English class, and plugged it into the wall and I could hear everything the students and the teacher were saying but I couldn’t see them at all,” Hall said. “We’ve probably come a little way since that.”

The school will use the money it received in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security package to pay for the upgrades. The school district received nearly $1.5 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

Cordon called it a strategic purchase for the district. “We think it relieves a burden on staff to have to worry about double prepping and teaching a separate group of kids,” he said.

Teachers will undergo training to use the new technology on Wednesdays and other times set aside for professional development.

The school district also approved a real estate purchase near the high school and adopted new policies regarding communicable diseases for students and staff.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 23.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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