Full-time, Daily In-Person School Instruction for Oregon’s Students

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

TO:          Superintendents, Charter School Leaders
FROM:    Colt GIll, Director of the Oregon Department of Education
DATE:     December 7, 2021
RE:         Full-time, Daily In-Person School Instruction for Oregon’s Students

With shared effort and consistent implementation of the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for the 2021-22 School Year, Oregon educators have worked tirelessly to support students and families, successfully reopening schools to in-person learning and keeping them open. We know that sustaining COVID-19 mitigation efforts in the context of staffing shortages, political and racial tensions, and overall sense of fatigue is stretching the capacity, spirit, and resolve of educators. At the same time, we remain committed to keeping schools open for in-person learning. Providing full-time, in-person learning daily for all students, all year long must remain our North Star. To that end, the purpose of this communication is to revisit the requirements for Instructional Time as required by Division 22 for all districts and schools regardless of instructional model. 

This message comes in response to several questions that have come to me or other agency staff regarding reducing in-person learning time for all students, based on reducing workload and addressing educator workforce shortages or related to providing for student health and safety. We have also received questions regarding specific programs or in response to shortened schedules for students served in specific programs designed to meet FAPE.

The Division 22 Standards on Required Instructional Time and Personnel lay out the legal requirements that districts must operate within regardless of instructional model. Districts and public charter schools should evaluate current program models or any future program models to ensure they meet these requirements. From the first publication in the early summer of 2021 the Resiliency Framework stated that, “Districts must meet all standard instructional time requirements in Division 22 (OAR 581-022-0102(30) and OAR 581-022-2320).” (p.11)

Instructional Time 
The definitions of instructional time and appropriately licensed staff are summarized below and detailed in OAR 581-022-0102 and OAR 581-022-2400. These policies serve as minimum requirements. Districts should consider within these parameters what design choices will best serve students’ learning and well-being within the local context.

As outlined in OAR 581-022-2320, each school district, including charter schools, must ensure that at least 92% of all students in the district and at least 80% of all students at each school operated by the district are scheduled to receive annually the following minimum hours of instructional time:

  • Grade 12 — 966 hours;
  • Grades 9–11 — 990 hours; and
  • Grades K–8 — 900 hours.

Instructional time is defined as time in which students are both:

  • Engaged in regularly scheduled instruction, learning activities, or learning assessments that are designed to meet Common Curriculum Goals and academic content standards.
  • Learning under the direction and supervision of a licensed or registered teacher, licensed CTE instructor, licensed practitioner, or Educational Assistant (“who is assigned instructionally related activities and is working under the supervision of a licensed or registered teacher as required by OAR 581-037-0015”).  
    • All teachers, specialists, and administrators employed by school districts must hold valid Oregon licenses and be assigned in accordance with the individual license district policies, program goals and applicable statutes and administrative rules. OAR 581-022-2400.
    • For charter schools:  All teachers in virtual or non-virtual public charter schools must be licensed or registered by TSPC. ORS 338.135(7)(b) 
    • For virtual charter schools: 95% of the school’s instructional hours must be taught by teachers licensed by TSPC. ORS 338.120(1)(f)(B)

For students participating in online instruction, per OAR 581-022-2320(7):

  • Instructional time includes online instruction supported by a licensed or registered teacher through electronic means.
  • Up to one hour per course per day may be counted as instructional time where the following criteria are met:
    • Every student has access to a licensed or registered teacher through in-person, telephone, or electronic means for each course taken; and
    • Every student has regular contact with school personnel for the purpose of attendance and progress monitoring.

Note that all of the above requirements for instructional time accounting and reporting also apply to public charter schools. 

This pandemic has required districts to adapt and innovate to ensure students receive high quality, full-time instruction.  We have deep respect and gratitude for the commitment and shared sense of responsibility to continue doing what we are collectively called to do: serve our students and communities.

If you have any questions about Division 22 requirements, please contact Susan Payne, ODE’s Education Standards & Systems Specialist.