JOYCE — Thursday was the most unusual first day of school than any had experienced.
But the students, parents and teachers and other staff were all game to tackle the online-only instruction, and it went pretty well, according to Dave Bingham, superintendent of the first public district on the North Olympic Peninsula to open this fall.
“Under the circumstances, I feel really good about how our opening has gone,” he said Friday.
Crescent School District in Joyce may even be the first district in the state to open this year, Bingham added. The small district west of Port Angeles schedules an early start so that students can get out earlier in the following summer.
Even though the first couple of days went fairly smoothly, it wasn’t easy.
Bingham said that a teacher with more than 20 years experience came to his office after the first day of school.
“I feel like a first-year teacher,” she told him. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
Clallam County is considered high risk because of the number of new COVID-19 cases it has had recently. That means that all schools in Clallam County are reopening with only online instruction for the vast majority of students.
Jefferson County was in a moderate risk group as of Saturday. In Jefferson County, school districts are using blended models.
As an outlier, Crescent may be a harbinger of things to come as the other eight Peninsula districts prepare to open next week or Sept. 8.
Like other public school districts, staff had worked all summer to improve online education from the emergency measures taken in the spring when Gov. Jay Inslee closed schools as a precaution against COVID-19.
The Crescent School District has over 20 teachers, 15 paraeducators, three bus drivers and maintenance personnel.
Most of the teachers at Crescent are in empty classrooms, working with students online for six periods a day, except for Wednesday which is a “guided practice day.”
Students were given Chromebooks, earbuds and, if they need them, hot spots.
A few students must be served face-to-face and so the district has set up six classrooms that can handle five students each at the appropriate distance for health guidelines. Bus drivers will operate two cans and one bus to pick up the children who need to be brought to a classroom.
Connectivity to the internet is a problem for some. Hot spots or technological coaching will help a few of these while others will have to come to the school building for instruction.
One change the Crescent School Board approved last week is that the district will provide free lunches for any of its 230 students who want them.
“It was a courageous decision to provide free lunch for all students,” Bingham said.
“We agreed that we are going to offer the opportunity.”
If families sign up by midnight on Sunday, the district will deliver a week’s worth of meals at bus stops on Wednesday.
Bingham complimented several times the “cooperative nature of employees” and “the commitment of employees to service.”
For more about Crescent School District, see csd313.org.
District officials throughout the Peninsula have been in touch with parents.
Details of their plans are available on district websites.
• Port Angeles School District’s first day of school will be Thursday, with teachers setting up Family Instructional and Support meetings Thursday, Friday and Sept. 8. For details, see portangelesschools.org.
• Sequim School District will resume classes on Wednesday. For more, see sequimschools.org.
• Quillayute Valley School District reopens on Wednesday. For details, see qvschools.org.
• Cape Flattery School District resume classes Thursday. For more, see cfsf401.org.
• Port Townsend School District resumes classes Thursday. For information, see https://ptschools.org/for_families/coronavirus.
• Chimacum School District reopens on Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day. For more information, see chimacumreopens.
• Quilcene School District will resume classes on Wednesday. For details, see quilcenereopens.
• Brinnon School District also will reopen on Wednesday. More information can be found at https://www.bsd46.org.