WENATCHEE — Students and teachers will be back in classrooms this fall — masks and all — at least part of the time.
That’s the word Thursday from state Superintendent Chris Reykdal.
“Every school district needs to prepare for a fall opening that is face to face,” he said. “Face masks, face shields and face coverings will be required as part of this,” along with social distancing, extra hand washing and screening requirements.
Specific school schedules will be decided by local school officials. School boards will adopt a plan that will be submitted to the state two weeks before school starts.
“Most districts are going to go back face to face in a traditional model, go to school, get on buses, but with social distancing, face coverings, more hygiene and screening,” Reykdal said.
Districts in regions that are still under stricter restrictions — including Chelan and Douglas counties — might have to implement alternatives that meet health restrictions, but will still provide face-to-face time for teachers and students.
Wenatchee and Eastmont administrators on Thursday said they are reviewing the guidelines to consider next steps.
The three main concepts presented Thursday as options were developed by the Reopening Washington Schools Workgroup, which included 120 teachers, administrators, health officials and community members from across the state, Reykdal said. In all cases, an option for remote learning will be implemented should schools need to close again temporarily or for longer periods because of community health concerns.
The schedule options, which Reydkal describes as covering “a continuum of possibilities,” include:
Split or rotating schedules with continuous remote learning.
- Students at all grade levels might attend school one day and work remotely the next day, which allows students to spread out to help with social distancing.
Phased-in opening with continuous remote learning
- , in which elementary age students attend class in person at first, using additional classroom space, while secondary students continue remote learning until social distancing restrictions are lifted further.
Continuous Learning 2.0
- , an enhanced version of the remote learning implemented this spring, with predictable student and staff schedules. It could be used on its own should schools have to completely close again, or on days when students are alternating with in-person class time.
Reykdal said attendance, grades and instruction hours that were waived this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will all be back in play. Assessment requirements are still being reviewed.
Eastmont Superintendent Garn Christensen said the district is planning an electronic survey of parents over the next two weeks on instruction models.
“Once this information is known, it will be used to determine initial capacity and schedules for both on campus and remote programs,” he said.
The district also expects to offer some limited on-campus summer programs for eligible students in July or August.
“Participation will be by invitation and require PPE and social distancing of all participants and employees,” he said.
Nothing is yet set in stone.
“We were told additional information and clarification will continue to be issued through the summer,” he said.
Wenatchee Superintendent Paul Gordon said the opportunity to return to some normalcy this fall is welcome.
“Education is best served when children are with us in the classroom, especially our most vulnerable and at-risk students,” he said. “We are excited to get our students back, but based on OSPI’s announcement, there are a number of goals that we need to achieve and one is developing a plan that will be approved by the Chelan-Douglas Health District to establish safe and healthy learning environments. Since our community is in phase 1.5 of the Governor’s reopening plan we must work closely with the health district on this process.”
The district already established a Reopening WSD Schools Task Force, Gordon said.
“This team is currently reviewing the District Planning Guide that was released today to develop a deeper understanding and work through logistics. We are evaluating a number of scenarios and are approaching this from the lens of planning to open, but preparing for alternatives. As these plans begin to materialize we will continue to keep our parents, staff and community informed,” he said.