Winter Lakes

Teacher Sondra Sperling works with a student at Winter Lakes School in Coquille on Sept 17. With the purchase of the former United Christian Academy, and growing enrollment numbers, the Coquille School District is set to add a Winter Lakes Elementary School to its alternative learning curriculum.

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COQUILLE — Coquille School District began moving its administrative offices this week.

The change in venue started almost as soon as new guidance came from the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority, instructing schools that there be 35 square feet per person and room for six feet to social distance. Schools have the option to come up with a model that allows the space to have children safely back in school or commit to distance learning, or compromise with a hybrid model.

“I do not want to do A Days and B Days where half the kids come in one day and the other half come in another,” said Tim Sweeney, superintendent for the district. “We want every child every day who wants to be in school.”

To try and make this happen, the district is spreading out.

That is starting with the district offices, which have in recent years been located at Lincoln Elementary. Now they are being moved to the Pioneer Methodist Church where Winter Lakes, the district's alternative school, used to reside before the district built Winter Lakes High School and purchased an old private elementary school for its younger grades.

“…We’re going to spread the kids out more, use our educational assistants and teachers to accommodate spreading out over larger spaces,” Sweeney said. “…We’re using every space we can at every school.”

The district has also begun a large project at Coquille High School to refurbish an old locker room, turning it into a classroom space.

“We’re (also) looking at all options for Coquille Valley Elementary,” he said. “Any family that wants a child in school five days a week, we will have that option. If a family wants a hybrid (model), we have plenty of opportunities to do those as well through Winter Lakes or Coquille High School. We’re trying to be as flexible as we can to meet the needs of all our families.”

Sweeney expects the district offices to be completely moved out of Lincoln Elementary by the end of the week, freeing up at least four rooms for classroom space.

Meanwhile, the refurbishing of the locker room is set to be finished by early August.

“It will be a beautiful state-of-the-art classroom when we’re done,” he said.

Though the district is striving to open up for all students by making space for healthy learning, South Coast Education Service District Superintendent Tenneal Wetherell said earlier this week that districts will submit plans to the state to reopen in the fall. These plans will be reviewed by local public health and the state before being approved.

“I will tell you, I’m more than a little sad,” Sweeney said of the district offices being moved. “This is the first time since 1988 I won’t have an office space in a school building. It’s been 32 years of being around kids every day and moving to a building that won’t have students is a little sad.”

Sweeney added that the needs of the students outweigh everything else though as the district focuses on taking care “of our kiddos.”

The new location for the district office is 180 North Baxter Street in Coquille.

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 236, or by email at worldnews1@countrymedia.net. Follow her on Twitter: @je_wardwriter.

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