Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, March 10, 2021, Page 9, Image 9

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Continued from Page A1
returned to the classroom yet. Brown
put the number of students getting at
least some in-person instruction at
160,105 students — less than 30%
of the state’s total student popula-
tion, according to ODE data.
“I am using this phased approach
because, as we have seen from
school districts that have returned to
in-person instruction successfully,
schools will return our youngest
learners to school fi rst, and apply the
lessons learned from that implemen-
tation process to reopening middle
and high school buildings,” Brown
Most Eastern Oregon schools had
already brought at least their young-
est grades back to the classroom,
however, and all Umatilla and Mor-
row County school districts’ plans
included bringing back all students
before the governor’s deadline.
Some, like Stanfi eld School Dis-
trict, had the space to bring all stu-
dents back for full days while still
maintaining social distancing and
small cohorts of students. Others
have been offering a hybrid sched-
ule, with students divided into two
groups and going for half days or
every other day.
Hermiston School District had
previously announced that it planned
to return middle school students to
the classroom for half days starting
March 22 and high school students
on April 12, which would meet the
governor’s deadlines. Kindergarten
through third grade students have
already returned, and fourth and fi fth
grade students will transition to a
hybrid schedule on Monday, March
Superintendent Tricia Mooney
said the governor’s announcement is
a “step in the right direction” toward
bringing all Oregon students back,
and it has been exciting for Herm-
iston School District staff to see
some students back in the classroom
She pointed to the statement in
Brown’s letter to OHA and ODE
directing them to provide updated
safety guidance to districts by no
later than March 19, and said those
updates to regulations, such as how
many students are allowed in a
cohort, will play into the district’s
plans for bringing secondary stu-
dents back.
Umatilla School District Super-
intendent Heidi Sipe said her dis-
trict’s plans remain in place. Uma-
tilla brought back elementary school
students over the past week and
started middle and high school stu-
dents on hybrid learning on Monday,
March 8.
Sipe said she was excited to see
all students back to the classroom
part time.
Leaders of Oregon’s teachers
union responded to the announce-
ment with a nuanced message,
expressing support for a return
to in-person learning, but repeat-
ing their emphasis on safety
“We hear, understand, and share
the frustration expressed by many
in our communities about the uncer-
tainty this pandemic has caused for
our public education system,” said
the statement signed by dozens of
local union presidents, “and the
long-standing educational dispari-
ties that continue to be exacerbated
by reopening plans that fail to truly
center student equity.”
The union message calls on lead-
ers in school districts where agree-
ments haven’t been reached to con-
tinue bargaining “in good faith with
local educators to craft plans that
will truly serve all of our students.”
Brown’s announcement comes
as Yellowhawk Tribal Health Cen-
ter at the Confederated Tribes of the
Umatilla Indian Reservation begins
offering COVID-19 vaccines to stu-
dents in the wake of a recent uptick
in reported cases among teenagers,
according to a press release from
CTUIR offi cials.
The new vaccine effort extends to
high school students 16 and over and
school employees in the Pendleton,
Athena, Helix and Pilot Rock school
districts who have yet to be vacci-
nated, the press release said. The
vaccine allocations to the CTUIR
from Indian Health are not governed
by Oregon Health Authority eligibil-
ity requirements.
Initial reactions to Brown’s
announcement were mixed. On
Twitter, some replied to her tweet
about the change by asking why
students hadn’t been returned to the
classroom earlier if the science was,
indeed, clear that risks were low.
Others asked whether “the science”
she was looking at took into account
the newer, much more contagious
variants of COVID-19 beginning
to circulate or whether there would
be any money for schools to imple-
ment safety measures, such as ven-
tilation for classrooms.
Next Tuesday, March 16 marks
the one-year anniversary of the gov-
ernor’s orders to close all schools to
in-person instruction.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
reporter Elizabeth Miller and Ore-
gonian reporter Eder Campuzano
contributed to this report.
spaced at least 6 feet apart. Spe-
cial measures for music classes
will range from using bell cov-
ers on instruments to wearing
certain types of masks for choir
Continued from Page A1
with, and to be able to practice
harmonizing with other sec-
tions’ parts.
She said there is a lot to miss Making learning fun
As distance learning hasn’t
about the old way of doing
things, particularly the social been as conducive to rehearsing
aspect and “beautiful” con- music together, music teachers
nection that comes from mak- have tried to introduce new con-
ing music together. But teach- cepts to the curriculum.
Cooley, who teaches choir for
ers interviewed for the article
also said they had seen
students pushed to sig-
nifi cant improvement on
a technical level as they
have had to work on a
much more individual
“They’re not feeding
off that musical energy
together, but they are MAKE MUSIC WITH THE
individually getting bet-
ter,” Bemrose-Rust said.
Sean McClanahan, Hermiston High School
band teacher
School band teacher Dan-
iel Allen said he thinks
students will come out of the both Sandstone and Armand Lar-
experience with more tenacity ive middle schools, said she has
and the ability to take respon- tried to come up with fun ways
sibility for their own learn- to engage students with music.
ing. They have also been able She did a unit on music in mov-
to do some fun collaborations ies and had students put together
with other schools. But he said their own short fi lm with musical
he misses the communal aspect score and background sounds.
of making music together, and Later, they were asked to write
it has been an adjustment mov- a quarantine-themed parody of
ing more toward giving students a famous song. In one example
feedback on recordings they Cooley provided, student Abby
send in rather than working with Goller and her father Josh Goller
sang “I just can’t wait to be free”
them in the moment.
“In normal years we’re stand- to the tune of the Lion King’s “I
ing in front of the class and just can’t wait to be king.”
They also watched the musi-
everything’s in real time and we
can hear something and stop the cal “Newsies,” and are now
group and fi x something right learning the music to it.
“This is the most excited
then,” he said.
For HHS band teacher Sean about singing I’ve seen them so
McClanahan, working virtually far this year,” Cooley said.
She and other teachers said
with students who play a wide
variety of instruments means a distance learning has been met
careful set-up in his classroom with mixed reactions from stu-
where instruments ring the desk dents. Some show up only when
where his camera is set up, mak- they have to, with cameras off
ing it easy to grab whatever and audio muted. Others are still
enthusiastic about participating,
instrument he needs.
“I’m looking forward to get- and come in for teachers’ “offi ce
ting back to a time when I can sit hours” over Google Classroom
down and make music with the to get one-on-one help in the
kids again,” he said.
When Cooley asked stu-
When high school students
return to the classroom later dents to send her what the most
this month, McClanahan said challenging thing about online
the district has been studying learning and the things they
best practices recommended by have enjoyed, Delaney Wie-
large studies on safely practicing seler replied it was hard learning
music amid COVID-19. Like the notes to a song over a com-
other classes, band and choir puter, but it was fun doing video
students will only meet with half edits. Others also mentioned
the group at a time and will be they liked the special projects,
but said it was hard learning new
technology and keeping track of
“One thing I like about
online school is that when we
are recording we have multi-
ple opportunities and we can go
back and re-record but in real
school you only have one shot at
singing good at a concert,” Car-
olyn Follett responded.
A diffi cult spring
Teachers had the summer to
prepare for what the current
school year might look like,
but had an abrupt end to the
previous school year. Bem-
rose-Rust’s students had a
choir concert the night that
school was shut down. They
thought it would be post-
poned temporarily, but those
students never did get an
opportunity to show off their
work. The high school pro-
duction of “Grease” shut
down, and various festivals
and competitions students
would have traveled to were
called off. They also missed
out on fi eld trips to Disney-
land, Hawaii, Silverwood and
a chance for Sandstone Middle
School students to perform at
Carnegie Hall.
Cristian Mata, Armand Lar-
ive Middle School band teacher,
said one of the things he was
saddest about canceling a year
ago was the annual “instrument
petting zoo” that allows mid-
dle school students to check out
their options for participating in
band and choose an instrument
they would want to play. It has
been an important recruiting
tool in the past.
“That was the most damag-
ing thing, is there were some
kids that didn’t know that this
was an option,” he said. “...
We were growing and then we
couldn’t do that one small event
that had a really big impact on
our incoming sixth graders.”
As a result, he said his and
Allen’s beginning band classes
are less than half the size they
would usually be.
COVID-19 spreading are still
present, the teachers interviewed
said they are very excited to see
students back in the classroom
again, even if it will look differ-
ent for the time being.
“We’re working so hard for
those kids — nights, weekends,
personal time,” Bemrose-Rust
said. “We do want to make it
work and we are there for them.”
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