PORT ANGELES — Hybrid learning, a blend of in-person and online instruction, will resume for Port Angeles School District students in kindergarten through sixth grade on Jan. 11, the district announced in an email to parents and guardians.
The bulk of Port Angeles’ secondary school students also may soon make the transition to a hybrid schedule as Port Angeles School Board members will review and potentially approve the district’s secondary plan to return seventh- through 12th-grade students to in-person learning at the Jan. 14 school board meeting.
If secondary school students are approved for a return for some in-person learning, the number of courses each student attends will be decreased.
“The most significant challenge in our secondary schedules is the concept of cohort size,” Jennie Wilson, executive assistant to the superintendent, said in the email. “Secondary students change classes several times each day, which increases the potential exposure risk, so we have developed a plan that reduces the number of classes daily but still allows for in-person learning to occur.”
Some high school students had previously returned for in-person career and technical education courses, including machine, collision repair and wood shop.
Emergency response students worked outside on emergency preparedness drills, Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps drills and completed air rifle sessions, and thespians and theater technician students completed a live-streamed performance earlier in the school year.
High school athletes also participated in small group, sport-specific training sessions and weightlifting during the fall.
The email also points out “the district successfully carried out over two months of in-person instruction without a single COVID-19 case by staff or students” prior to the most recent closure in late November.
The district received a surprise visit for a review of safety protocols in early December by the state Department of Labor and Industries.
“We are happy to report that L&I didn’t identify any hazards, and reported no violations on mandatory school protocols,” Wilson said. “Passing this inspection validates the good work of our staff, students, and community.
Based on new findings relating to schools and virus transmission rates, the state Department of Health updated its in-person learning guidance last month.
“Both the DOH and [Clallam County Public Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry Unthank] remain confident that transmission risk in school is considered low when all safety measures are in place. The state updated its metric to include a moderate rate of 50-350 cases per 100,000 over a 14-day period. We are currently in the moderate range in Clallam County.”
Other school districts on the North Olympic Peninsula also are planning returns to hybrid or in-person schooling.
Brinnon School District announced its kindergarten through eighth-grade students will return to in-person schooling four days a week beginning today, with in-person classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Remote learning will be offered on Wednesdays, and students will have academic expectations during those remote sessions.
Families also will continue to have a fully remote learning option.
Chimacum School District offered a hybrid mix of in-person and remote learning depending on the day of the week for students arranged in cohorts for much of the fall.
“We’ll be looking at reopening in January,” Acting Superintendent David Engle said in a Dec. 31 email.
“The timing is what we have to work on and how much revision to our hybrid model we can include in the reopening effort.”
Quilcene Superintendent Frank Redmon said the district is hopeful of returning student cohorts to in-person classes this month in a Facebook post on the district page last month. He also mentioned school staff may be in line for COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Vaccinations for school staff are coming soon — hopefully in January or February of 2021,” Redmon wrote in the post.
“It is looking pretty good that we will be able to bring cohorts of students back to school in January. The reopening team, comprised of parents, students, teachers, staff, board members and administrators, will meet the first week of January to review the conditions at that time and set timelines and conditions for the return to in-person learning for our students.”
Before rising case counts caused Port Townsend School District to return to remote instruction, the district offered families full online instruction or a hybrid model of two days of in-person instruction and three days of online instruction, with a limited number of high school students having the hybrid model available.
Port Townsend has not announced plans for the return of students, and emails to district administrators were not returned during the holiday break.
Prior to the holiday break, Crescent School District in Joyce was providing in-person schooling four days a week for most students from kindergarten through sixth grade.
Middle and high school students were on a hybrid schedule, splitting time between in-class and remote learning.
Crescent had no confirmed cases of COVID-19, Crescent School District Superintendent David Bingham said during a recent campus tour with state Rep. Mike Chapman, D-Port Angeles.
Forks students and staff avoided COVID-19 transmission this fall and plan to continue to offer in-person instruction when school resumes Monday.
Forks High School students can attend class between 8:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Elementary and middle school students have longer in-person hours.
The Sequim School District has not announced a return to hybrid instruction. The district’s next school board meeting is 6 p.m. today.
The Cape Flattery district’s plans to begin to offer hybrid learning starting with elementary school students sometime in November was scuttled by rising COVID-19 case rates.
Makah Tribal lands remain closed to nonresidents. The tribe’s Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center hopes to begin vaccinations of residents this month.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].