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

On July 28th, Deer Park’s Superintendent Travis Hanson along with an off camera panelist group held a one-hour online forum where he provided useful information and allowed listeners to get a better idea of what the current plans for the upcoming school year 2020-2021 might be. At this forum meeting it was discussed opening on September 2nd to a split/rotating schedule model, an approach that brings kids back to school in two groups with each group attending on different days of the week. This was necessary for two reasons. First, COVID-19 mandatory guidelines from the Office of Superintendent of Public (OSPI) that must be followed inorder to legally reopen. Secondly, because of the already limited space that the Deer Park School District has been dealing with for years. Deer Park Schools, like many of the other schools, are trying to be nimble as they are receiving new guidance weekly if not daily.  In fact, Deer Park has had work groups working to solve, not only COVID related problems so that their school can open, but planning for families that want to use distance (off-site) learning models, as well as developing plans for the contingency that they are not allowed to have any kids in physical classrooms.   

However, due to the newest letter by Dr. Lutz one has to wonder if Deer Park will go to a remote model. Superintendent Hansen recently posted a press release on the district website stating that he will have another online forum on August 6th at 6pm. The discussion will center around why Deer Park School District has yet to go to a remote model. Hansen also plans to talk about the following issues.

  • New details from Spokane Regional Health & Washington State Dept. of Health.
  • Deer Park’s selected rotating (A/B) schedule
  • Washington’s requirements for public schools:  screening, physical distancing, PPE (face coverings)
  • Updated information about athletics and activities programs
  • Potential changes to the 2020-2021 school calendar 
  • Alternative offerings for families looking for support/guidance in a fully online model
  • Contingency planning

In the first forum on July 28th the Superintendent did say they are working to get a plan in place to be approved by the school board for their August 10th meeting.

Save the Date

Online Forum 2 with Superintendent Hanson

Thursday, August 6th at 6:00 pm.

Click the link to join:  Zoom.us/j/97859089666

Mary Walker School District

Parents, staff, and community are invited to participate in a Thought Exchange that Mary Walker School District is putting on that ends today, August 5th at 11:59pm to help plan for the Fall Reopening Plan. 

The exchange is confidential. Your identity is not shared however people can see and rate the thoughts that others have provided based on how much you agree/disagree or how important you feel the ideas are. 

Here are the school learning model options:

PLAN A:   All students enrolled in distance learning

PLAN B:  Students divided into two groups – Split/Rotating schedule (2 days on campus learning, 3 days at home learning)

PLAN C:  Individual option for all distance learning during Split/Rotating schedule.

If the District decides to run on PLAN B – (Split/Rotating schedule), they would accommodate your child if you wish to have them learning from home and have the internet access to do so. 

Please click on the link below to participate in the Thought Exchange.

My.thoughtexchange.com/198129893

Riverside School District 

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

  • At Chattaroy Elementary and Riverside Elementary Schools, they will conduct daily in-person learning. Safety requirements, including social distancing, will be in place.
  •  At Riverside Middle and High School, they will conduct in-person learning on a split/rotating schedule model, an approach that brings kids back to school in two groups with each group attending on different days of the week. Groups are not yet determined. Safety requirements, including social distancing, will be in place. 
  • 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. 
  • At 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. 

They also recommend moving the first student day of school from Wednesday, August 26th, to Monday, August 31st, to allow the week of August 24-28 for staff training, collaboration, and planning. If approved by the Board, they would simply switch two professional development days originally scheduled later in the school year to this preceding week. They would not need to add days to the school calendar. 

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 announced on their facebook on July 19th that the following day on the 20th they would be calling all parents of Loon Lake Elementary students to participate in a 5 question survey and that they were to begin at 1:00pm. They seem to be in the early planning phase but Superintendent/Principal Brad Van Dyne invites people that have any questions or concerns regarding school starting to email him at [email protected]. There will be a board meeting on August 19th and the agenda for that meeting will be available for the public 24 hours before the meeting. 

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, 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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