MOSES LAKE — The Moses Lake School Board on Thursday unanimously approved a school reopening plan for the fall that will give parents the choice of online instruction, full-time on-campus learning or a blend of the two.
“We’re going to offer all three of these if we’re allowed,” said Superintendent Josh Meek. “We are somewhat at the mercy of the public health side.”
In order to be approved by both Grant County Health District and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), the plan must allow for proper social distancing, the creation of cohorts to limit the exposure and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, also known as the coronavirus, and safe interactions between students and staff.
According to the district plan for Moses Lake High School, students who opt for a blended learning plan will most likely take four 90-minute classes each day for two days, and then online courses directed by teachers for the remaining three days of the week.
Students attending school full-time will take seven classes following a similar, four-period-per-day schedule, with classes alternating each day “on an A/B schedule” and built-in advising time with guidance counselors “every other day.”
Students opting for full-time remote learning will use the district’s self-guided Apex curriculum under the supervision of a teacher.
Meek said the schedules for middle schools and elementary schools are still being worked on, but the district is attempting to keep what happens at the middle schools in line as much as possible with what happens at MLHS.
He also said that not every class or course offering will be able to be offered in this new environment, and that the district is going to focus on core classes and graduation requirements.
“It’s like operating three schools,” Meek said. “Not every class works.”
Meek also said in order for the plans to work, parents and students will need to commit to them, at least for a semester, and not attempt to “bounce between them.”
“To make this all work, you have to have a level of commitment from everyone,” he said.
Meek also said that even as districts across the state struggle with how to restart this fall, state grading laws will be in force again, meaning students will be able to fail classes.
“We will return to standard gradings, with F’s and incomplete,” he said.
When Gov. Jay Inslee ordered schools statewide closed in March, OSPI issued a directive stating that no student could fail and that whatever grade they had on March 17 would be their minimum grade — a statement Meek said was too widely heard as “school does not count.”
In a randomized survey taken of parents with school-age children, the district found that around 6.5 percent of all parents were not intending to have their kids return to school this fall. That could mean a roughly $7.7 million shortfall in state apportionment next fall, Meek said, and an assumption the district will build into its budget for the next school year.
“It’s not all about the money, but it’s a big deal,” he said.
The board is set to draw up and approve the MLSD’s 2020-21 school budget in two meetings in August. The budget must be in place before the start of the next school year on Sept. 1.