Lincoln COVID-19 update

The+Lincoln+High+School+Trivory+front+page.+Lincoln+recently+held+a+video+update+informing+students+and+community+members+on+the+current+status+of+the+PPS+response+to+COVID-19.

Courtesy of Trivory App

The Lincoln High School Trivory front page. Lincoln recently held a video update informing students and community members on the current status of the PPS response to COVID-19.

By Cate Bikales and Amanda Ngo

The Lincoln administration hosted a listening session where leadership students could join and ask any questions they had about the recent school closures. Questions about IB testing, future grades and events like prom and graduation frequently came up. Here are some of the questions that were asked, and what the administration had to say to the concerns amidst COVID-19. If your questions are not answered below, check the Trivory homepage for notes on the Mar. 20 Virtual Listening Session, where other questions are answered. 

Do we know what school is going to look like going forward?

As of now, no one knows exactly what school will look like, and the plans will continue to change until an official plan is released. Currently, the biggest focus is on the seniors. 

“Everyone’s heartbroken and worried about [what will happen with the seniors]. I really think that our state is working on it and is doing everything they can…to figure out how to support the seniors to graduation. That’s the top priority in our state and our school district,” says principal Peyton Chapman.

Because Portland Public Schools (PPS) wants to be doing all of the communications around any details regarding school and online work, Chapman is currently not emailing families about what she believes school will look like going forward. 

“My role is just to advocate for kids for the teachers. Teachers want to be teaching at Lincoln, but the state isn’t ready,” says Chapman. “I’m following the conversation and weighing in whenever possible.” 

According to Chapman, there has been no discussion about summer school. More details will be provided going forward. 

What will schoolwork look like?

With the curve of the virus increasing, educators across the district are struggling to find a balance between maintaining normalcy and assigning too much work in a growing global pandemic. 

In the listening session, students expressed concerns about the lack of schoolwork being sent out by teachers. Labeled as a “return to normalcy,” some students stressed their need for structure in their daily life that school once provided. Other students were bombarded with a list of assignments and deadlines. So what exactly will schoolwork look like in the next few weeks?

According to Chapman, nothing is set in stone. 

“Until the district, state, or even IB makes a decision, there are a lot of different conversations and different pathways of supporting kids through [the current situation],” she says. 

Students can expect to see resources posted on their teachers’ websites sometime after Apr. 1. This will include lesson plans, powerpoint presentations, and readings that Chapman said will be optional and not attached to a grade. 

“We talk about this at Lincoln all the time,” says Chapman. “It’s not about the grade, it’s about the learning. We have a large number of students who are wondering how they and their families are going to survive this in terms of food, housing, [etc]… We don’t want to add any stress if you aren’t able to keep up with the readings.”

The administration said that they are working with the district to communicate a plan that “provides some normalcy and structure for kids and also provides support and flexibility that doesn’t add stress to anyone’s lives.”

Will our grades be able to change while school is closed?

It is still unclear what the grading process will look like going forward. The decision depends on what the state decides to do, but Chapman has been working this past week to influence the decisions being made.

“We are always advocating for the best interest of the kids. So, if it’s better to freeze grades, then we would be advocating for that. If some kids don’t like their grades, then we would be advocating to give them added time to submit or not to count the semester at all,” says Chapman. 

The top priority is making sure students are not feeling stressed out because of the amount of school they are missing.

“The teams are there to help you be successful,” says Chapman. “Not to penalize you for your effort to help communities stay healthy.”

What will IB/SAT/ACT testing look like? Could they be pushed out to the summer?

The college testing situations will be up to the testing organizations. As of right now, The College Board and the ACT have cancelled or postponed a few of their test dates. Here are the current test updates:

  • The Mar. 25 SAT administration scheduled to take place during the school day has been postponed, with no replacement date as of now.
  • The May 2 SAT testing date, which includes international test sites, has been canceled and refunds are available.
  • The June 6 SAT and SAT subject tests are still scheduled for now.
  • ACT has rescheduled its Apr. 4 national test date to June 13. Registered students will receive an email about the postponement and instructions for free rescheduling to June 13 or later.

IB Coordinator Kim Bliss is currently in communication with IB to get more information on the situation and will send an email out to students and parents once he is updated.

Administrators said they have not heard about how these tests will be dealt with and how students will be affected by this testing. However, they wanted to remind students that colleges will not penalize them or their application if an issue comes up with these test scores.

With regards to IB testing, IB has announced that they will release information about test postponements and cancellations on Mar. 27. If students are unable to test in May, there is a November testing option available. This is a controversial option because it conflicts with many current seniors’ schedules since they will be in college, and it also asks students to retain information from a class that they are no longer in for several months to take a test that requires extensive knowledge of the subject. The future of IB testing is unclear, but IB has released information about coursework and deadline extensions to help students stay on track to finish their IB requirements.

What is going on with prom and graduation?

The plan for prom and graduation is still unclear.

“We don’t have enough information to know what is or isn’t going to happen,” says Vice Principal Christopher Brida.

Students can expect to hear more details about prom and graduation as we get closer to the dates. If students return to school during April or May, the administration hopes to hold a prom for juniors and seniors, though it might not be at the Oregon Zoo as originally planned. 

“The location is the least of our worries,” says Chapman. “If we returned May 1, and we were allowed to have a prom, we would find a place.”

In terms of graduation, universities around the country are opting for a virtual ceremony over traditional graduation. If school closures and bans on gatherings of large groups remain in place through June, the district will follow this route and graduation will be held online. However, the administration is hopeful that school will return to session, and, until Gov. Kate Brown releases more information, the assumption is that Lincoln will hold an in-person graduation ceremony.

What is the current plan with school sports, and will they resume if we go back to school at the end of April?

Currently, teams are not allowed to meet or work around practices because of the potential risks that come with practicing as a team. 

“If you break this rule, people could get sick. So, we don’t want to break the rule under any circumstances,” says athletic director Jessica Russell. “People need to not be gathering in order to stop the spread and flatten the curve.”

In terms of starting up the season again when students return to school, there are no definitive answers, but there are some dates to look forward to that may provide answers. 

“The OSAA has been deciding [what to do about the season]. They meet on Apr. 1 and then they’ll meet again on Apr. 15 to decide whether or not we’re going to resume sports for the remainder of the season and, if so, what that’s going to look like,” says Russell.

Because so many games will have passed by the time we return to school, it will be a difficult decision to determine what games need to be rescheduled and what needs to be done to prepare teams for any sort of playoff or state tournament. 

The OSAA posts all of their meeting minutes online, so be sure to check out their website if you want live updates on decisions being made. 

Will students be able to go back into school at some point to get any materials we may have left?

The first and second floors of the Lincoln building have been disinfected, but, as of right now, it is not safe for students to go into the building.

“When people come in, they touch things. It’s just not safe right now, and [I don’t think it will be] before Apr. 28. I don’t see a day when students can get in there because they’re just too many situations [where students could get sick],” says Chapman.

Once the state decides what is going to happen, there will be more answers. To teachers and staff, staying safe and healthy is a bigger priority than retrieving belongings. 

How is the construction of the new school affected?

The pandemic has not interrupted the construction schedule. Construction workers are still working on the new campus and it is on track to open in the fall of 2022.

What is the best way to stay updated?

This listening session is the first of many that the administration hopes to hold in order to update students and their families on the uncertainties of the school closures. This session was only open to the administration and leadership students, but future sessions will be larger and more inclusive of the whole student body. The administration discussed the possibility of holding weekly listening sessions but are still working on how to include hundreds of students on the same call. For now, the best way to stay updated is following @lhscards on Instagram, checking the Trivory newsfeed for more information and reading statewide information regarding school closures on The Oregonian. The minutes and summary of the March 20th listening session is available on Trivory. District-wide information and updates on COVID-19 is available at www.pps.net/coronavirus.

What should students do now?

Chapman urged students to practice safe social distancing.

“Right now, everything depends on whether or not we get ahead of the curve,” says Chapman. 

If the curve flattens in the next few weeks, students will be able to return to school on Apr. 28.

Administrators and staff at Lincoln are working tirelessly to figure out what school and the rest of the year will look like going forward. Be sure to thank all of them, and if you ever have questions do not hesitate to email your teachers. Everyone is working to support you, not to tear you down. 

“Teachers really enjoy hearing from their students and are inspired by that,” says Chapman. “They want the best for their students.”

This story was originally published on The Cardinal Times on March 20, 2020.