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Program Implementation Logistics

Outdoor school may look much different in 2020-2022 than in years past. We appreciate the work that teachers and outdoor school educators are doing to modify outdoor school programs to align with safety regulations while prioritizing meaningful learning experiences for students. We acknowledge that the shift to modified programming (including physically distanced in-person programs and distance learning) presents additional challenges to ensuring that outdoor school meets the needs of all students. Our team remains committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and outdoor school for all, especially in these difficult times. We hope you will join us in thinking about how we can support our most vulnerable students this year (and always!), and we invite you to email us at with ideas or requests for resources/support.

The information on this page is intended to support you in implementing our COVID-19 Response Strategies for 2020-2022. COVID-19 regulations may change faster than we can update them on this website. You are responsible for following all state and local regulations governing COVID-19 restrictions.

Clear communication between districts/schools and outdoor school providers is essential to the success of modified outdoor school programming. Providers should communicate directly with districts that have scheduled outdoor school programming. If Fall outdoor school programming is not possible due to district rules, outdoor school provider/site protocols, and/or public health guidance, we encourage providers and districts to reschedule Fall 2021 outdoor school programming for Spring 2022 when possible. When it is not possible or desirable to reschedule programming for Spring 2022, a district may wish to proceed with modified outdoor school programming. (Read our Response Strategies for 2020-2022 Outdoor School to learn more.)

Oregon schools are following state guidance outlined in the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for 2021-2022. Outdoor school is part of school, and all outdoor school activity must comply with the regulations in this document. Each district is able to establish its own 2021-2022 plan within the bounds of the state regulations. Outdoor school providers should reach out to district contacts to learn more about the district's approach and to inquire about plans for outdoor school in 2021-2022. 

Modified outdoor school programming may include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities. During synchronous activities, the educator(s) and the students are participating in learning during a set time and place (e.g., an in-person program or a live Zoom call). During asynchronous activities, on the other hand, students are not participating in or attending an activity at the same set time, but rather participate at times that better fit their schedules. An example would be having the ability to access a pre-recorded talk or being able to respond to prompts through email or a Google Class site.

When travel to outdoor school sites is not possible, consider whether you might utilize alternative sites (especially those that do not require transporting students):

  • Sports fields (soccer, football, baseball/softball fields)
  • A parking lot with shade tarps and seating options
  • A nearby park
  • The schoolyard (Read more about utilizing your schoolyard for outdoor learning at Green Schoolyards America)

When selecting a location for modified outdoor school programming, consider the specific needs of the students who will attend. For example, some students may need a location that is wheelchair accessible. Outdoor school providers should communicate with school districts to learn about students' specific needs to ensure that all students are able to participate. OSU Extension Service Outdoor School can support one-on-one aides and other expenses as needed and as outlined in our Budget Categories and Fiscal Policies.

All physically distanced in-person programming must follow the rules in the Ready Schools, Safe Learners Resiliency Framework for 2021-2022, including for face coverings and minimum space per student.

Many districts' comprehensive distance learning plans utilize virtual learning, for example where students connect to a virtual platform (e.g., Google Classroom) using computers or tablets and an internet connection. In some areas, especially areas without internet connection, comprehensive distance-learning may include sending materials (e.g., paper packets of activities) to students' residences.

  • Virtual programming - The two most popular virtual learning platforms are:
    • Zoom (video conferencing platform)
      • Free ‘Education’ version will host up to 100 participants but has a limit of 40 minutes for group meetings. 
      • The basic paid version of $14.99/month does NOT have a 40-minute time limit on group meetings. 
      • Users with free versions can set up meetings on a shared basic account and meetings will NOT time out after 40 minutes. 
      • Video tutorials on how to set up meetings or webinars, facilitate breakout rooms, recordings, etc.
    • Google Classroom
      • Google Classroom is a free program for schools where educators can create, distribute, and grade assignments. The program fosters collaboration and communication amongst students, teachers, and parents. 
      • If the school or teacher is using this platform, outdoor school providers can create content that the teacher can then share on Google Classroom.
      • Providers could also create their own Google Classroom and populate it with outdoor school content.
      • More information and video tutorials can be found here.
  • Asynchronous learning at student residences - Students could utilize instructional videos or packets with written instructions to facilitate completing outdoor field science experiments. 
    • Consider creating kits with materials for students. Materials could include a hand lens, journal, pH strips, rock or pinecone, or another interesting object from nature, and any supplies needed to complete outlined activities.
    • Outdoor school providers are encouraged to work within the system that a district has already established to make materials available to students. Schools are not able to disclose student addresses to outside parties, and thus it will be necessary to coordinate with the district/school to send materials to students’ residences.
    • Some students may need accommodations to participate. Outdoor school providers should communicate with the district/school to discuss potential adjustments to kit materials (e.g., enlarged print materials) to support the participation of all students.

Equity and inclusion are key outdoor school values. Outdoor school providers should communicate with districts/schools to learn about the specific needs of the student population and develop a plan for ensuring that all students can be supported during outdoor school programming.

On December 18, 2020, we hosted a panel discussion where representatives from four outdoor school programs shared their successes and challenges with planning and implementing modified outdoor school programs. They had tons of great ideas! You can watch the recording of the discussion on the dedicated CDL Panel Discussion page.

Is there other information we should include on this page? Please send us a note to let us know what would be helpful to you:

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