ODE Announces Care and Connection Week

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together
Care and Connection logo small

Dear School and District Leaders,

This fall, we are returning to full-time, in-person school. For students and families, this will likely bring up a mix of excitement, opportunity, anticipation and nervousness. 

Challenges returning to in-person school will be heightened for students, families and staff in communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, or those who have personally been impacted by illness or loss. These include Oregon’s tribal, indigenous, Black, Latino/a/x, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities, LGBTQ2SIA+ identifying students, and those experiencing a disability, navigating poverty, and many living in Oregon’s rural communities.

To kick the year off right, we’re encouraging schools and school districts to designate the first full week of school Care and Connection Week. The week is an opportunity for school leaders, staff, students and families to foster care, connection and community, and to create a healthy foundation for the school year.

School leaders can devote their first full week of the school year to activities that:

  • Promote a sense of community and togetherness. 
  • Build excitement for the school year that aligns with safety messaging.
  • Welcome students, families and staff back to school, and foster relationships and community.
  • Connect to equity and mental health/health promotion and prevention that is strengths-based, equity-centered, and trauma and social emotional learning informed.
  • Bring us together to renew our relationships, cultivate care, connection and community.

In partnership with Portland communications firm Coates Kokes we’ve prepared a communications toolkit to help school districts and schools plan and communicate about their own unique Care and Connection Week. This toolkit includes a sample message for parents and guardians, guidance for school and district staff, social media copy and examples of Care and Connection Week activities. These tools were created as a general starting point for school districts and schools, so please feel free to modify these materials to fit the specific needs of your school district, individual school or community.

Many schools and school staff already use “getting to know you” exercises and activities like greeting students at the classroom door each day. Some use art, music, movement, nature and other opportunities for students to express themselves. These and other activities can encourage students to make meaning of their experience, and build relationships and community. We invite staff and administrators to make care and connection activities a daily practice so that everyone who walks into a school building feels welcome.

We’re excited about this effort and want to provide as much support as we can to your Care and Connection Week. If you have any questions about this effort please contact Dr. B Grace Bullock.

Thank you,

Colt Gill
Oregon Department of Education Director