SJF Summer ’20 SAM 08/04/2020


Good Afternoon St. John Fisher School Families,


As you are aware, we have been working hard all summer to develop creative ways to safely return to school this fall.  We continue to use the guidance from the Archdiocese of Portland’s Department of Catholic Schools, Oregon Department of Education’s “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” requirements, the Oregon Health Authority, Multnomah Education Service District Communicable Disease Management Plan and parent and teacher surveys to develop this comprehensive plan.


Under the updated “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” requirements released last Tuesday, for students to return to campus for in-person instruction, we must meet the following criteria:

  • Schools must be in a county that is no longer in the baseline phase to consider in-person instructional models
    • We currently meet this requirement since both Multnomah and Washington Counties are in “Phase 1”
  • Case rate for Multnomah AND Washington County must be <10 cases per 100,000 population for three weeks in a row and in the preceding 7 days
    • Week of 7/26: Multnomah County was 63.0 and Washington County was 55.3
  • Test positivity <5% for three weeks in a row and in the preceding 7 days
    • Week of 7/26: Multnomah County was 5.3% and Washington County was 5.7%
  • State metric must be met three weeks in a row: test positivity <5% for three weeks in a row and in the preceding 7 days
    • Week of 7/26: 5.8%  (week of 7/12: 5.4% and week of 7/19: 5.7%)


The guidelines do provide the following exceptions for students in Kindergarten through Third Grade and/or for students with special needs (have a formal ILP)

  • COVID-19 is not actively spreading among the school community;
  • The case rate in the county is <30 cases per 100,000 population in the preceding 7 days for the past three weeks;
    • Week of 7/12: Multnomah County was 72.2 and Washington County 58.4
    • Week of 7/19: Multnomah County was 55.2 and Washington County 47.3
    • Week of 7/26: Multnomah County was 63.0 and Washington County 55.3
  • The test positivity in the county is <5% in the preceding 7 days for the past three weeks;
    • Week of 7/12: Multnomah County was 6.2% and Washington County 4.9%
    • Week of 7/19: Multnomah County was 5.7% and Washington County 5.3%
    • Week of 7/26: Multnomah County was 5.3% and Washington County 5.7%
  • Schools fully comply with sections 1-3 of the ready School, Safe Learners guidance.
    • We currently meet this requirement
    • Next Update is August 11th

As you can see from the data, Multnomah and Washington County do not currently meet all the requirements for students to be able to have in-person instruction on campus.  Therefore, we will be shifting our primary focus for returning to school in September from in-person to our comprehensive distance learning platform.


When designing our comprehensive distance learning platform, we utilized feedback from our parent and faculty survey this past spring.  With 80% of families participating in the survey, I’m happy to report that in general, families were satisfied with the school’s remote learning model (Very Satisfied: 41%, Moderately Satisfied: 46%, Slightly Satisfied: 10%, Not Satisfied: 3%).  We took the feedback, continued to build on our strengths and addressed areas for improvement. Here is a small summary of what you can expect from our comprehensive distance learning platform:


  • Instruction will occur 5 days a week
    • Course load of core curriculum classes and specialists instruction will be distributed throughout the week, similar to if school was in-person
    • Each Wednesday we will have Mass at 8:30am
      • We are looking into having classes scheduled to attend in-person, following church COVID mandates, and lead the Mass


  • Full academic program for all students
    • Specialists will provide supplemental activities to accent the core curriculum
    • Assignments for specialists will be due 1 time per week (typically on Thursday or Friday)
    • These classes are required and will receive a grade (typically Pass/No Pass)
    • Arrangements regarding accommodations/modifications for core curriculum or specialist courses will be made through the corresponding teacher and school administration


  • Increase in “Synchronous” Instruction, which will be completed on a daily basis
    • Students will have daily interaction with one or more teachers and/or their Instructional Assistant who will guide their full educational experience
    • Attendance will be taken daily via participation in video class, communication from the student to the teacher via email, phone call with student or parent or posting completed assignments to Google Classroom
    • Teachers will instruct students using Zoom and/or Google Hangouts
    • Instruction may be whole group, small group or individual based on students needs/assignments for the day
    • Similar to in-person instruction, students should follow the Student/Parent handbook and dress according to the uniform or free dress policy, and be ready for “class” each day
    • All faculty will have a 30 minute “office hour”/Study hall  in the afternoon (between 1-3) for general Q/A


  • “Asynchronous” Instruction will be completed for additional support activities and supplemental lessons
    • Homeroom and Specialist Teachers may provide instructional videos, either conducted by themselves and/or by reputable sources such as the textbook publisher, educational websites or supplementary online programs such as Khan Academy, to accompany their teaching.
    • All specialist teachers will have at least 1 asynchronous lesson per week.  Specialists will coordinate their lessons with the homeroom teacher to make assignments applicable to the classroom instruction.
    • Videos will be posted to the SJF YouTube channel and/or Google Classroom


  • Faculty, Staff and Students will utilize the following platforms for managing their courses:
    • Assignments will be distributed using Google Classroom for K-8 Instruction: this will be “student centered” and geared to contain the assignments for students.  Using Google Classroom will allow students to “share” (turn-in) assignments directly to the teacher, who can log what is/is not turned in.  Google Classroom access will be provided to both parents and students for grades K-4th. Students in grades 5th – 8th will be responsible for their own Google Classroom. Should parents want access to their child’s account, they are welcome to contact our Technology and Innovation Specialist, homeroom teacher or their own child to obtain username/password.
    • SchoolSpeak is our “Intranet” program: Parents (K-8) and students (5th – 8th) have usernames/passwords to access their class newsletters and grades.
    • PortaPortal: This unique website will host hyperlinks for individual classroom “Frequently Used Websites.”  It will be updated each term.
    • All students will be able to check out a school-owned Chromebook for the duration of the Comprehensive Distance Learning
      • Students are expected to follow policies outlined in the Digital Citizenship Plan at all times.
    • Primary teachers (K-2) will provide regular (bi-monthly) opportunities for families to check assignments in/out


  • Balance of “screen time”:
    • Although all assignments will be distributed via Google Classroom, not all assignments will be completed using the computer
    • Teachers will establish age-appropriate parameters for screen time and balance assignments that can be “online” and those that can be “offline” and completed with alternative methods of engagement


In an effort to help families prepare for distance learning and given the data and the fact that virus levels fluctuate, we anticipate the Archdiocese to release an official statement later this week regarding closure notice. Please know it is SJF’s priority to bring faculty, staff and students back to campus as quickly and safely as possible.  Additionally, having our kindergarten through third grade program return as soon as possible is a priority and you can see their data allows for more leniency on returning to campus. Therefore, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 numbers and will consider bringing back our kindergarten through third grade once we have met the appropriate “exemption” benchmarks. Then, once we meet the remainder of the entire matrix, we will be able to bring back all grades.


We recognize that even when we meet these matrices, some families will want their child to continue to stay home and have remote learning.  Therefore, we will allow students to continue via remote learning on an “as needed” basis.  This instruction will be largely “asynchronous” with recorded lessons and less “synchronous” learning since the classroom teacher will be occupied with the students that are on campus.  However we will be providing a remote learning coordinator that will assist in bridging the communication between the classroom teacher and the student(s) that is at home.


In closing, I recognize the news of this new matrix comes as a disappointment for faculty, staff, students and families that were looking forward to the possibility of returning to the classroom.  However, these plans emphasize the current uncertainty of COVID-19 and we must continue to prioritize the health and safety of our community when making decisions. We anticipate the next update to the “Ready Schools, Safe Learners” plan next Tuesday, August 11st. We will update our plan as needed with these new guidelines and communicate these changes to you on Friday, August 14th.  It is our priority to bring back faculty, staff and students as quickly as possible, making sure to maintain the health and safety of all involved.  Widespread community commitment to physical distancing, face coverings, handwashing, and reducing group sizes will help open our schools to in-person instruction and keep them open.  Let’s all do our part to help get back in person as soon as possible.




Merrit Holub