FORKS — Quillayute Valley School District managed to prevent COVID-19 transmission in its buildings this fall while students were on campus, district Superintendent Diana Reaume told the Quillayute Valley School Board.
The Forks district and Crescent School District in Joyce were among the few in the region to offer in-person instruction prior to the holiday break while the coronavirus pandemic raged on.
“We have had no (COVID-19) transmission,” Reaume told the board on Dec. 21.
Teachers and other staff have provided both remote and in-person schooling for West End learners using COVID-19 safety guidelines. Masks are required and desks are arranged to maintain 6 feet of physical distance.
“Overall, I’m impressed by what we’re doing in Forks,” Reaume said in the virtual school board meeting.
“We’re doing way more than a lot of other schools are capable of doing, probably with the exception of Crescent, which is even smaller.”
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.
Like Quillayute Valley, 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 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.
Reaume said 531 of the 933 students in the Quillayute Valley School District, or 57 percent, attended classes in person last week.
Local school boards and Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank each have the authority to close schools for COVID-19 precautions.
“My thinking is, as long as we can demonstrate that we’re safe, we need to do as much in person as we can for our kids,” Reaume told the school board.
Quillayute Valley School Board member Mike Reaves said student representatives from other districts had complained about the struggles of online learning.
“It would be good to get some feedback from our kids,” Reaves said.
“You want to hear from staff, too, but the kids, get the feedback from them.”
District officials will meet with students, parents and staff in the coming weeks to “find out what’s working and what’s not working,” Reaume said.
Quillayute Valley School Board Chairman Bill Rohde asked if remote learners were “losing ground” on academics.
Reaume said student success was “all over the map.”
District officials will review testing data on Jan. 6.
“As far as remote learning, some kids are excelling,” Reaume said. “They’re not coming to school, and they like not coming to school.
“But we know from our online learning program that really, truly, 15 to 20 percent of our student population, that’s their mode of learning,” Reaume added.
“We have other kids whose parents do not want them in school, and they’re doing the remote learning and they’re not doing as well.”
Reaume said she and six other superintendents held a virtual meeting Monday with state Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, who chairs the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
“My initial take is bigger school districts are really struggling to get their doors open for a variety of reasons, not to point fingers,” Reaume said.
“We are lucky that we have the real estate to space out kids and meet the six safety and health standards.”
Reaume said the Quillayute Valley School District would endeavor to provide afternoon classes for high school-aged students.
“I just wanted to shout again for our staff,” Reaume said.
“All of them are reporting for work. They really are doing their best to meet the needs of both in-person and remote, and it’s a challenge.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].