Clallam schools prepare for in-class instruction

Low infection rates lead to moves to hybrid systems

PORT ANGELES — School district superintendents in Clallam County are moving forward with the initial transition to hybrid learning models in advance of returning more students to classrooms beginning in early October.

Crescent, Port Angeles, Quillayute Valley and Sequim school districts all plan to return a reduced number of students to campus locations, while Cape Flattery School District will reassess the potential return of students to its schools in Neah Bay and Clallam Bay at the end of the first quarter of remote instruction in early November.

Clallam County schools opened with nearly 100 percent online-only education, unlike Jefferson County public school districts which mostly used hybrid systems, because of high-risk infection rates. The changes correspond to continued progress at keeping the rates of COVID-19 transmission down in Clallam County.

Port Angeles

Kindergarten students will be the first grade level to return to Port Angeles classrooms on an A/B schedule Oct. 5, with A students attending all-day kindergarten classes Mondays and Thursdays and B students Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will remain a distance learning day.

“We are making good progress in returning students to classrooms,” Superintendent Marty Brewer said.

“We have nearly 100 special education students already back two days a week, CTE [Career and Technical Education] students are coming back to campuses in small groups for courses, we have an educational partnership with the [Elwha Sklallam Tribe] and the next big step is grade-level implementation.”

Brewer said if rates of community transmission stay at recent low levels and there’s no evidence of community spread with the return of kindergarten students and staff, the district would then bring back first graders on a similar hybrid path.

“I’m hesitant to put a timeline on it …. Our hope would be two weeks [between grade levels],” Brewer said. “I want to be very cautious about setting timelines because there’s been a lot of disappointment. I know that’s hard to hear. I know that there is frustration in the community.

”I’ve been asked “Why just kindergarten? And I reference success…That’s why we we are being cautious and steady so we don’t have a setback. Right now we have success stories, special ed students, CTE kids back in our buildings. We need to continue that progression forward and it starts with kindergartners.

“Slow is fast right now.”

Quillayute Valley

The broadest reopening plan comes from Quillayute Valley School District, which plans to reopen its K-12 schools to all students Oct. 5 using a two-day-per-week hybrid plan that would see one set of students attend Mondays and Tuesdays and the other set on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would be reserved for students with special needs, including those requiring occupational or speech therapy and students on individual education plans.

Superintendent Diana Reaume will present the district’s plan during a school board meeting Monday.

“Our goal is to get as much in-person learning as possible,” Reaume said. “This week we have been calling individual families and asking if they choose to send their students back and discussing what that will look like. I would say the breakdown is about 75 percent returning, and 25 percent planning to continue online learning.

“We have a quite bit of real estate in our schools and we believe we can get every K-12 student into our buildings and properly distanced.”

Time in classrooms would be reduced, with students likely to attend morning sessions before leaving in the early afternoon.

Middle and high school students will be grouped into cohorts and will continue using the FUEL online platform in the physical classroom.

“The real challenge is at the middle and high school levels and not comingling the cohorts,” Reaume said. “We will have a teacher with each group and will begin the day with some social/emotional wellness check and some in-person instruction depending on the certification of the teacher.

“When we go onto the platform, the teacher will be a facilitator and troubleshooter and can potentially appear on video during our remote learning schedule.”

Sequim

Sequim School District Superintendent Rob Clark students will begin to return to classrooms Oct. 12 via a staggered start approach in a Zoom presentation available on the Sequim School District website https://youtu.be/JdzFkl8NJwo

“We are putting approximately 50 students in each one of our buildings. Greywolf Elementary, Helen Haller, Sequim Middle and Sequim High School,” Clark said.

“Those kids will go to school on an AA/BB schedule. That means if you’re child is an A they will go to school Monday and Tuesday. If you’re child is a B, you will go Thursday and Friday. We will use Wednesday for some catch-up and professional development and full-phased cleaning of our facilities.”

Clark said initial returners at each school would be drawn from criteria set by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

This approach prioritizes students most impacted by the loss of in-person services such as those with disabilities, those needing accommodations with 504 plans , English learners, students who are homeless, in foster care, migratory or who were not served equitably through remote learning last spring.”

Following the initial return, Clark said younger learners would follow.

“Who goes next? After a two-week interval (Oct. 26), we are bringing all of our kindergartners in, all of those who choose to go,” Clark said.

“Two weeks later we are going with first grade and see how that goes. We are going to be adding students into classes in two-week intervals so we can continue to ensure our staff’s safety and our student’s safety.”

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery Superintendent Michelle Parkin said remote learning will be reevaluated at the end of the first quarter of instruction in early November.

“Our goal will be to begin some hybrid learning at the end of the first quarter,” Parkin said. “However, prior to that date, we are moving in the direction of serving our most highest-need students. We will be working [this] week on establishing a timeline to give them estimated dates of when those services will start to be provided.”

Parkin said the first students to return will be elementary age.

“We plan to use a similar approach as nearby districts,” Parkin said. “Making sure our protocols and procedures are defined.”

Crescent

Crescent Superintendent Dave Bingham said students in kindergarten through fifth grade will move to a hybrid schedule Oct. 5 with an A group of students attending in-person on Mondays and Thursdays and a B group of students in class on Tuesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays would serve as student homework and teacher learning days. The district hopes to follow that schedule for two weeks before K-5 students return to the classroom four days per week on Oct. 26.

It will be a longer wait for Crescent’s middle and high school students.

“This is really based on the assumption or the hope that case numbers continue to hold or decline in terms of infection rate so we can start entertaining potential in-person learning with secondary students the first or second week of November under a hybrid model. It would not be a four-day a week model.”

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Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

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