A recent Snoqualmie Valley School District ‘ThoughtExchange” survey regarding reopening schools in the fall – in which 82% of respondents (2,349) were SVSD parents – showed a large majority (88%) are somewhat (37%) to completely (51%) comfortable sending kids back to the classroom. 11% said they were not comfortable at all.
[See our earlier story on SVSD’s Fall Reopening Plan]
Going back to pre-COVID normal this fall and giving the majority of survey respondents what they want – 100% of the time – may not be possible, though.
There are roadblocks making 100% in-person learning for all students nearly impossible. The two biggest issues are mandates from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for 6 feet of social distancing and face coverings (including shields).
Why are these mandates roadblocks? Because the average SVSD classroom isn’t large enough for that social distance requirement while still accommodating most class sizes. The growing district also has limited extra classrooms.
Superintendent Manahan said even if King County is in phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan, DOH officials stated 6 feet of distance and face coverings are still mandated in schools – including if the district invested in plexiglass partitions, a safety protocol allowed at some businesses when social distance cannot be maintained while masks are worn.
[See OSPI’s Q&A for Reopening Schools HERE.]
This is what administrators and school board members are currently addressing as they work to formulate the district’s fall reopening plan. And during a June 18th meeting, board members seemed to realize that unless state mandates change, a hybrid instruction model may be the closest return to normal they can achieve for SVSD families.
Potential hybrid models could split classes into smaller groups, with those groups rotating coming to the classroom part-time and remote learning the rest of the time. Another option could see ‘vulnerable’ students at school full-time, while others do remote learning.
As for a potential hybrid instruction model, a majority of SVSD ThoughtExchange respondents (57%) said if hybrid was the only choice, they preferred a daily rotation (some days on site and some days virtual learning) vs. 33% who preferred a weekly rotation.
When asked if they would prefer an updated, full-time distance learning model, 57% of respondents said no; 26% said they were unsure and 16% said yes.
Respondents on either side of the online/in-person school fence found common ground on safety, wanting the district to ensure children and staff who are sick stay home. Some also suggested discontinuing awards for perfect attendance this year.
Regardless of what model SVSD uses this fall, Superintendent Rob Manahan said remote learning will improve. He said the district has made that a priority. And for families not comfortable going back to the classroom, it is expected there will be an option for full-time remote learning. Daily health screenings for staff and students are also required if an in-person learning option is chosen.
The district will continue working on its reopening plan over the next two weeks, until the preliminary plan is announced around July 6th. They have scheduled an extra school board meeting and there are also small groups of staff members working on different plan aspects.
The school board is required to pass a resolution with its fall reopening plan no later than August 15th – two weeks prior to the start of the 2020-21 school year.