A number of North County school districts have announced schedules and other plans for beginning the 2020-2021 school year remotely ahead of the first day of instruction.
Based on state-level recommendations as well as feedback from their respective communities, local districts’ board of directors have finalized plans for how to safely begin instruction for the coming school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Battle Ground Public Schools (BGPS)
BGPS’ board of directors approved its remote-learning plan Aug. 11. The plan begins Sept. 2 on the first day of school, with flexibility to transition into in-person learning when Clark County has met metrics from the state on recommendations for moving into reopening buildings.
As for immediate plans, BGPS will divide primary school students into two groups, one receiving direct class time instruction in the morning and the other half in the afternoon, according to information from the district website. Students will utilize Zoom software for that instruction on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays.
Outside of direct instruction, students will have independent work or in small groups with staff. Time will be built in for special education, English language learning and intervention time during that independent work. There will be some flexibility available for families to switch from an assigned a.m. or p.m. timeslot to fit their schedules.
Middle- and high-school students will also have half-day direct instruction and the other half for independent and small-group work with staff, BGPS indicated. Half of class subjects will occur Monday and Thursday with the other half Tuesday and Friday, and Wednesday will feature teacher office hours, individual intervention or small group time, similar to the existing Tiger Time and Falcon Support. Special education, English language learning and interventions will also be built-in during independent work time.
Those upper-grade schedules could see adjustment to move direct instruction into the afternoon in order to sync with partner programs like Cascadia Technical Academy or to accommodate for bandwidth requirements, BGPS noted.
Students on independent educational programs (IEPs), English language learners or those receiving academic interventions will receive additional information closer to the school year, the district stated.
The district stated that “all learning will occur during regular school hours, and careful consideration has been given to the amount of time students will be online, in front of a screen, during the day.”
Woodland Public Schools (WPS)
The WPS board of directors also approved a fully distance-learning model Aug. 12. In a release to the district community the following day the district stated it was following the Washington State Department of Health “decision tree” framework based on a phased approach to reopening buildings for instruction.
Given Cowlitz and Clark County’s current placement within the framework, WPS plans to begin in the first phase of the state’s plan, recommending completely remote instruction save a few instances. Limited in-person learning will be offered for students such as children with disabilities in groups no larger than four students, the district stated.
Should both counties drop in the number of recent cases — below 75 per 100,000 of population in the prior 14 days — WPS will begin to implement a hybrid model for kindergarten through fourth-grade students, with a portion of the day in school and the other at home. Older grades will continue full distance learning with face-to-face support options for groups up to five students, with at-risk learners able to receive additional support.
Should Clark and Cowlitz counties drop below 25 cases per 100,000 in the prior two weeks, the WPS board will consider two options — either kindergarten through third-grade students being in person every day with a reduced schedule and older students in a hybrid, alternating-day schedule, or students up to fourth grade receiving in-person instruction every day with a reduced schedule and older students in an alternating-day schedule.
The advanced phases are also subject to other metrics on COVID-19 spread, including both counties moving into their own subsequent phases of reopening separate from school districts, WPS noted. A fourth phase would involve full reopening of in-person instruction, subject to additional criteria determined by local and state data.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our return to education this fall looks different than in the past,” WPS Superintendent Michael Green stated. “Health and safety must be the top priority for our students and staff in addition to providing a quality education for our students.”
Based on concerns from the community and teachers during the spring, WPS announced a “2.0” version of its distance learning for the coming school year. Attendance requirements, a return to A-F grading and more structured learning were among aspects indicated by the district in the new-and-improved learning model.
Ridgefield School District (RSD)
RSD has adopted its own form of remote learning, announced by district superintendent Nathan McCann in a letter to families Aug. 7.
The superintendent announced that elementary-aged students would be receiving “small group skill-specific instruction” at least four days a week, with high-need students receiving it five days a week. Sixth-grade students would have a continuing subject-specific rotation.
Older grades would maintain a six-period course schedule throughout the week, McCann wrote, anticipating a return to in-person instruction sometime in the year.
Given feedback from the Spring, McCann wrote the district would have all staff using the Google Suite of software for instruction, including Google Meets, assignments given through Google Classroom and “asynchronous instruction” through Screencastify.
Building schedules and more information is available at ridgefieldsd.org/o/district/page/covid-19-remote.