Will Your School Be Remote?

This article is a update from article DPGazette.com/2020/08/will-your-school-be-remote/

Will all schools in our area operate by a remote learning model? This question is being asked by many due to recent advice given by Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz to area school districts on August 3rd.

In Dr. Lutz’ letter to the schools, he states, “Based on our rates, the existing science regarding COVID-19, and school reopening, I strongly recommend beginning the year in remote/continuous learning for all students. Consider in-person learning for those who have special health or education needs that cannot be delivered through remote learning.” Shortly after receiving this letter, Spokane Public Schools announced they will be starting the year with real-time distance learning, which has led many in our readership to wonder how their schools will handle this new complication. The full letter from Dr. Bob Lutz can be viewed online at: DPGazette.com/3bwvy.

Deer Park School District

Through two online forums (July 28 and August 6th), Deer Park’s Superintendent Travis Hanson, along with a group of off camera panelists, strove to answer questions and update the community on the district’s plan for the upcoming school year.  

After much discussion, workgroups and community feedback, as well as taking Dr Lutz’ health and safety recommendations under consideration, the district has decided to offer two public schooling options. The first is an online only, the other a split/rotating class schedule.  The reason for the rotating schedule is twofold: first, COVID-19 mandatory guidelines about social distancing in the classroom from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) that must be followed in order to legally reopen, secondly, the already limited space that the Deer Park School District has been dealing with for years. Regardless of the model that you choose, if approved, school is scheduled to start on September 2nd.

 Hanson made it clear that the district plans to follow all current health requirements, but feels the public welfare of the Deer Park Community needs to have an in person model available.  Both the Deer Park School Board and OSPI will need to approve the plans before they will be finalized. 

Mary Walker School District

Parents, staff, and community were invited to participate in a Thought Exchange that Mary Walker School District organized to help plan for the Fall Reopening Plan. 

The results of the thought exchanges can be found at: DPGazette.com/mwsdtx 

Riverside School District 

Riverside took their planning to the board for review on Tuesday, August 4th. Their plan’s basic outline: 

  • Chattaroy Elementary and Riverside Elementary Schools will conduct daily in-person learning. 
  • Riverside Middle and High School will conduct in-person learning on a split/rotating schedule model.
  • Riverside Middle and High School will run a 3-period day in a quarter system, at least for the first semester. This will be more manageable for students, staff, and families, particularly if, in the worst case scenario, they have to move to a fully online/remote model 
  • Students with special needs and/or without access to technology will be able to access additional days for in person learning 
  • Riverside Achievement Center and Independent Scholar Program (K-12), they will operate the programs as they have previously

They state that they know if the governor, State Department of Health, and/or Spokane Regional Health District decides to move schools to online/remote only, they need to be able to pivot seamlessly. Therefore, the backbone of their plan is a robust online/remote learning model using a single platform. They plan to partner with a soon to be determined company for K-12 customizable online/remote learning curricula, which will be available to all students, and will help them move in and out of in-person learning and teaching, if needed. All in-person classes safety requirements, including social distancing, will be in place

There is a possibility they will move the first of school from Wednesday, August 26th, to Monday, August 31st, to allow the week of August 24-28 for staff training, collaboration, and planning.

They are also talking about hosting webinars for families to learn more and have questions answered in the next few weeks. 

Loon Lake School District

Loon Lake’s Superintendent and Principal Brad Van Dyne sent out a phone message to all Loon Lake school district families on August 11th.  The statement clearly stated that the district had been working hard to address all of the concerns for students’ health and learning.  

Due to an uptick in COVID cases, Stevens County has been deemed “high risk”, and Northeast Tri County Health recommends that schools within the county start with a distance learning only model.  Van Dyne and the school board worked tirelessly to figure out their next step, and ultimately decided to follow the distance learning recommendations, at least to start out the year.  Teachers and staff are “beyond disappointed” that they can’t have kids in classes yet, and hope that this will be temporary. 

“Safety is the top priority,” stated Van Dyne, then went on to say that the district is 100% committed to the success of students.  Their lesson and teaching method will be different and better than what took place during the spring shutdown.

The district has mobile hotspots for families who need them, and a Chromebook for every student. Prior to the first day of school, each student will have a face to face meeting with their teachers and be able to pick up supplies.

There is a preliminary schooling schedule on the Loon Lake School District website: DPGazette.com/6tbbb. First day of school is September 2nd.

In Conclusion

No matter what planning stage they’re in, each school shares the same recurring theme: plan for any possibility. They all want to have students for face to face instruction times, and are working with current guidelines to do that. However, after the shock of having to close down their schools so quickly last spring, they know it could happen again; they are working on contingency plans in case a remote model becomes an order instead of a recommendation. With online learning being a struggle last year and schools reporting a lack of student growth, the schools are striving to create a system that will be as stress free and high quality as possible. 

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