North County districts are eyeing a return to in-person instruction to pre-pandemic levels next school year following an announcement from the state superintendent earlier this month.
On May 13, Washington State Superintendent for Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced that K-12 public schools would go back to full in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. Reykdal said most students in the state succeed better in “a comprehensive, in-person learning environment surrounded by their peers and caring adults.”
“Extended time in remote and hybrid learning has had negative impacts on many of our students’ mental and behavioral health, as well as their engagement with and success in school,” Reykdal said in the announcement.
Reykdal said that widespread COVID-19 vaccinations and following health and safety measures have allowed the potential to return to full-time, in-person schooling, noting that guidance on mask wearing, hygiene, disinfecting, and ventilation must still be followed. Physical distancing of 3 feet in classrooms and 6 feet in other spaces will not be mandated, but should be employed “to the greatest extent possible.”
Following the announcement, several local school districts laid out their own plans for a full reopening in the 2021-2022 school year. Battle Ground Public Schools, Woodland Public Schools, and the Ridgefield School District will all have some sort of alternative for the in-person instruction, though those attending any of those districts’ traditional schools will be in the classroom full-time.
A news release from Battle Ground Public Schools stated all students learning remotely through one of the district’s comprehensive school buildings will be automatically enrolled for full-time, in-person learning in the fall. The district features River Online Learning, River HomeLink, and Summit View High School, which each offer differing levels of remote learning.
River Online Learning is the predominantly online option for K-12 students, while River HomeLink offers a hybrid in-person and remote model for those grades, the release explained.
Summit View High School offers more individualized learning for high school-aged students, allowing for course completion around other responsibilities that a student might have, or to graduate ahead of schedule. Though the majority of coursework is completed at home, students meet weekly with dedicated teachers who help design a schedule and instructional program for the students, the release noted.
Students already enrolled in those programs won’t have to do anything to continue, though those attending neighborhood schools will have to enroll on the district’s specific websites for the schools, according to the release.
The BGPS release added that it formed a new partnership with Right At School, a nationally recognized school enrichment provider, for before and after school care at Battle Ground’s primary schools and Amboy Middle School.
For Woodland, the Lewis River Academy, which serves district students from kindergarten through eighth grade, and TEAM High School will offer out-of-the-classroom options. Lewis River Academy’s teachers will work with families to prepare curriculum, a news release from the district stated, and students will have the opportunity to take part in weekly in-person classroom lessons including guest lecturers and hands-on activities.
For TEAM High School, students prepare their lesson plans weekly by meeting with one of the school’s teachers, and can work on their studies from home with an internet-connected computer. Students can also work in-person at the TEAM High School facility, the release stated.
The return to in-person instruction districtwide comes at the same time the Ridgefield School District will begin offering a dedicated virtual learning program for the first time. In a letter to district families, RSD Superintendent Nathan McCann said Wisdom Ridge Academy will be offered beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, which will allow for almost completely remote learning, though students will have in-person weekly check-ins and monthly progress reports with their teachers.
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