School districts across the North Olympic Peninsula are using a variety of means to provide educational opportunities for students.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced that, beginning Monday if it had not already been done, districts must offer learning opportunities to their students despite mandated closures ordered by Gov, Jay Inslee on March 10 extending through at least April 24 in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
The order is not to have classrooms shift their entire curriculum to online or even go online, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said during a press conference conducted through Zoom on Thursday. The point is to find ways to get learning materials to students in some way through online work, paper work packets or other means.
OSPI is leaving it to the districts on how that will work, Reykdal said.
“We want districts to get after some learning anyway you can,” he explained.
“Doing nothing isn’t an option. You’re going to make this decision locally.
“You need to be prepared to offer educational services.”
The work does not have to be graded, he added. It’s open to the teachers to work with the families on what is best for them, Reykdal said.
Regarding concerns about the Class of 2020 being able to graduate on time, Reykdal suggested that districts loosen local guidelines and keep the state minimums for graduation.
“We’re really determined to graduate them,” Reyldal said. “Our guidance is the local districts figure it out.”
Each of the Peninsula public school districts contacted has a slightly different approach, but the common practice has been having teachers reach out to their students and their families and find what would work best for their case.
Parents and students are encouraged to contact their respective teachers and school districts directly.
Port Angeles elementary school teachers have contacted parents to use platforms such as email, phone calls, DOJO and Google Classroom.
Stevens Middle School, Port Angeles High School and Lincoln High School staff are preparing to move to online instruction using Google Classroom, and teachers have been contacting students through their student emails with more information.
Stevens Middle School will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday for students to pick up needed textbooks, officials said.
For more, see portangelesschools.
Port Townsend School District has a slightly different plan depending on what school students go to and will work with students and families who need paper learning materials, officials said.
High school families will be receiving information on grading and credits in coming days, while “adaptable progress reporting systems” are being designed for middle schools and elementary students.
Salish Coast Elementary students are being contacted by their classroom teachers, who are distributing learning materials and answering questions.
At Blue Heron Middle School, the primary contact will be each student’s advisory teacher, who will send out a weekly learning plan/newsletter through email.
Port Townsend High School students are being contacted directly by their teachers about specific coursework.
Case workers are contacting special education students.
“The district has moved from providing access to learning resources to providing instructional opportunities,” Superintendent John Polm said.
“Their plans will include offering routines and structures with a focus on balancing think time, work time and play time.
“I am thankful for the incredible efforts our teachers and staff have put into planning and outreach.”
For more, see porttownsendschools.
Quillayute Valley School District in Forks started sending out work packets the beginning of this week and will continue to do so weekly, as the district also explores the online learning capabilities, said Superintendent Diana Reaume.
The district is currently offering some online resources for specific programs such as its speech and language pathology, and eventually sees itself having a hybrid paper/online model once everything is sorted out,” Reaume said.
“Overall, our entire staff have worked tirelessly the past two weeks to figure out our operations of reaching families and students by remote ways,” Reaume said. “This has been an amazing time, as I see people set aside their differences and come together. We are fortunate in Forks.”
For more see quillayutevalleyschools.
Crescent School District in Joyce sent home Chromebooks with many students who needed computers and has distributed work packets to elementary students, said Superintendent Dave Bingham.
Teachers have contacted students individually to discuss needs and are trying to adapt to them, such as one teacher mailing packets through the normal postal service. Others have hand delivered and the district has made arrangements for packets to be delivered with the districts meals if asked, Bingham said.
“We’re using a variety of strategies and we will continue to post updates on our website, Parents Square, and Facebook,” Bingham said.
For more, see crescentschool.
Chimacum School District put out a survey to families to determine technical needs there are and will be doing what they can to support each family on a case by case basis, Superintendent Rick Thompson said.
“We are working together to gather and send out the best possible resources,” said Thompson. “Some families don’t need tech; some do. Overall, the staff have been really creative in their approaches to providing education remotely.”
For more, see chimacumschools.
Quilcene School District has been working with students since schools were initially closed to provide materials online and on paper, Superintendent Frank Redmon said.
Paper packets have been delivered with the meal pick-ups and emails to parents. The district also has supplied some students with Chromebooks who needed them and are encouraging them to safely use WiFi hotspots at the community centers if needed.
District officials are considering putting materials on USB drives for students, he added.
“We’re trying to take as broad approach as possible,” Redmon said. “We’re just trying as many ways as possible to engage with our students and families.”
For more, see quilceneschools.
Internet connectivity is a struggle for the rural district, said Brinnon Superintendent Trish Beathard, so both paper and online avenues are being used for the students in the pre-school through eighth grade school.
The district is checking in weekly with families and continues to update its website and social media pages, she said.
“We have a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude,” Beathhard said.
”We have a strong and caring school family that will come behind and support our students during this time.”
For more, see brinnonschool.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].