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School Plans Disrupted by COVID-19

Classroom sizes factor in plans for distancing

7/21/2020, 3:37 p.m.
Oregon may have a harder time keeping students 6 feet apart than other states because it has one of the ...
High School students work on advanced placement physics in this archive photo from AP. COVID-19 is disrupting plans for the new school year, and Oregon may have a harder time keep students 6 feet apart than other states because it has one of the largest average class sizes.

Oregon may have a harder time keeping students 6 feet apart than other states in the new school year under plans to keep students and school staff safe during the public health crises brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. This is because, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Oregon has one of the largest average class sizes.

With COVID-19 already disrupting the last school year, almost every family is wondering how this next school year is going to go.

The virus is still preventing many from returning to work, but when it comes to children the conversation is a little more serious.

Many are worried that with such tight spaces, lots of schools won’t have the option of following social distancing guidelines.

With that in mind, figures show Oregon is No. 5 in the states with the most crowded classrooms with an average of 25.6 students per class. Utah had the most students per classroom at 26.6 students, Washington had 24 students for each class coming in at No. 8. The states with the lowest average class count were Vermont, North Dakota and Maine at 17.

While these numbers are averages, they do not necessarily represent every teacher or district’s story. For high school teachers, class sizes can differ dramatically between periods. Others who teach music, gym, art, and other non-core classes typically have larger than average class sizes.

Similarly, these numbers are spread out across the state- some schools will have lower numbers, while others have larger roll lists. In addition, newly built schools typically have larger classrooms, while older schools were built with class sizes of the past in mind.

Ultimately, while this data provides a good big picture look, it doesn’t speak to the unique challenges each school and district will face in returning to class.

Under state guidelines for playing it safe, Oregon school district may choose to continue remote learning in the fall or a combination of both classroom and out of classroom learning.