Despite a rise in COVID-19 cases in Benton County, the Corvallis School District is considering options for elementary school students to return to in-person learning as part of a new hybrid educational program. This potential hybrid program may start with K-3 students participating in in-school learning in staggered groups to maintain social distancing regulations and allow for smaller class sizes. Students of CSD may be given this option as soon as the county has been in the “yellow zone” for two weeks, meaning when only 50-200 residents per 100,000 test positive for COVID in a 14-day period. Currently, Benton County is in the “orange zone” with 275 residents testing positive in the last 14 days, and is still considered to be in an extreme risk category of infection rate.
While it is not known when the county’s COVID positivity rate will fall into the yellow zone, CSD is preparing to phase young students into part-time in-person learning citing the negative effects that distance learning has on students. Students of minority races and from low-income homes have been particularly disadvantaged during remote learning, and CSD believes that the participation and overall wellbeing of students will increase as a result of returning to classroom learning.
The District also plans to provide students with options to continue remote learning if families feel unsafe sending children back into school buildings, but plans to promote hygiene and social distancing in schools by continued mask wearing, hand washing, and similar CDC recommended actions to prevent the spread of the virus.