News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Secondary students return to school

“Snow on the ground, sun is out, kids are coming back — life is good!” said Sisters Middle School (SMS) Counselor Brook Jackson on Monday, January 25, as students returned to classrooms for the first time in months.

After nearly 11 months of receiving instruction through Comprehensive Distance Learning, secondary students in Sisters School District returned to the classroom this week under the “Hybrid Model,” which allows them to be in school part of the week, while continuing distance learning in the remainder.

Grades five and six at SMS and nine and 10 at Sisters High School (SHS) stepped through the doors of their respective schools Monday, January 25, to a much-changed environment, with strict protocols in place ensuring social distancing, including specific entry and exit points, the establishment of cohorts, and extra spacing in hallways, commons, and classrooms.

For ninth graders at SHS, this week represents their first on-site experience as a group of high schoolers.

Principal Joe Hosang, along with other staff members and some senior student leaders, greeted freshmen in front of the school. Despite the chill, students appeared eager to be back.

Hosang said, “They need to be back. There is some trepidation, but the emotional energy is exciting. Things are going to be different, but I am excited for the students to get back and get connected.”

Ninth graders and 10th graders were scheduled to have one-on-one meetings with staff members as a way to do individual check-ins and to help with orientation and meeting students’ needs, according to counselor Lindy Weddel. In addition, socially distanced assemblies were planned as a further welcome and to underscore important information.

At Sisters Middle School, the fifth and sixth graders are split by alphabet, with half of each grade coming on Monday and Wednesday and the other half on campus Tuesday and Thursday. That protocol is in place to accommodate social distancing in the buildings. For the high school, ninth and 10th grade students attend Monday and Wednesday. On the “off” days students will continue Comprehensive Distance Learning — which is why the school is considered to be using the “Hybrid Model.”

Grades seven, eight, 10, and 11 are set to begin on-site school next week.

Students whose families have chosen to not return to on-site learning will be instructed online through Sisters Educational Options (SEO). Final numbers of families choosing SEO are not yet confirmed.

The return to school coincides with many school district employees receiving non-mandatory first vaccinations at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds for COVID-19 over the last few days.


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