Update from SMART Reading:
July 13, 2020
Over the past few months, we’ve been carefully monitoring the guidance from the Oregon Department of Education and have been in close contact with our educator partners as we think about how to adapt our programming next year. While much is still unknown, we do know that kids across Oregon have faced staggering learning losses and will need reading support and access to books more than ever when they return to school.
ODE recently released guidance for districts, including physical distancing requirements and limitations on non-essential volunteers entering school buildings. Based on this guidance — and our own commitment to ensuring the safety of our students, volunteers, and staff — in-person reading with students will not be possible in the 2020-21 academic year.
We acknowledge that this is sad and disappointing news. We’re also hopeful that this will be a temporary change and we look forward to connecting with kids in-person again as soon as it’s safe to do so.
We are committed to continuing to achieve our mission next year through two program adaptations we’re fleshing out:
- Virtual reading: We’re exploring ways to connect volunteers and kids for live and pre-recorded virtual reading sessions. We still have a lot to learn and many details to iron out about how this will work, factoring in important legalities and safety considerations. We will keep our volunteers updated as we know more about how and when these virtual opportunities will roll out.
- Book distribution: Educators and families tell us that access to books is a crucial way we can support students and we’re committed to fulfilling and expanding this part of our mission next year. We’re also looking into ways to still provide students with the opportunity to choose their books, an important tenet of our program.
Timeline & Next Steps: Our goal is to have these delivery models finalized by early August, so our school and district partners can factor us into their reopening plans that are due by Aug. 15.
For our volunteers, we know next year will look really different, but we anticipate there being a number of ways to continue supporting and engaging in our work — as virtual reading volunteers, digital ambassadors, and more. Stay tuned for details later this summer.
Here are a few of the resources we are monitoring for information on the virus:
- CDC COVID-19 Information Page
- CDC Resources on Protecting Yourself
- Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 Information Page (but CDC is primary resource for up-to-date information)
- Memo from Oregon Department of Education