LYNNWOOD — This fall, class will be in session for the Edmonds School District — kind of.
The district of more than 20,000 students has decided on a hybrid school week. Students will be divided into two groups that will each spend two days a week in the classroom and three days at home with remote learning. On campus, students will have to wear masks and follow new safety guidelines, but many other details have yet to be ironed out.
“Nothing’s going to be normal in the fall,” Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas said. “Our number one goal is kid’s safety and faculty safety. I’ve been in education for 35 years, without kids feeling safe and faculty feeling safe, it’s tough for them to learn.”
Group A will attend in-person classes on Mondays and Tuesdays, while Group B will be in school on Thursdays and Fridays.
Students in pre-school through first grade may have the option to attend in-person classes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, depending on available classroom space.
All students will participate in remote learning on Wednesdays, which are designated cleaning days for school buildings.
Parents can choose to keep their children home, as well, with fully remote learning.
“My hope is that parents are going to want to send their kids into our schools,” Balderas said. “But we still owe them a free and appropriate education, as best as we can.”
It’s unclear how students will be divided into the two groups. The goal is to keep together students in the same household, Balderas said. But some siblings have different last names and dividing by address could lead to equity issues.
The district has 22 different work groups looking to answer those questions and others, while also making plans for issues like nutrition, transportation, health screening, contact tracing, technology, curriculum and more.
Selecting the hybrid model now allows the work groups to plan for one option instead of three, four or five other possibilities, Balderas said. It also makes contact tracing easier, in the case that a student tests positive.
“It just makes more sense to do it this way,” he said.
At the same time, the district has to demonstrate how it will meet several health standards, like mandatory face coverings, laid out last month by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Additionally, every district must have a contingency plan to shift entirely to remote learning should they need to close for any period. A confirmed case on campus or a community outbreak could precipitate such a closure.
Those questions must be answered, and a plan sent to the state at least two weeks before the school year starts in September.
The goal is to have a plan ready for the school board’s approval by mid-August, Balderas said.
For masks, the district is looking to provide reusable masks for students and more durable ones for faculty and staff, he said.
Another priority for Balderas is improving the district’s distance learning plan.
“We need to get better at that,” he said. “We know some kids weren’t engaged. We know some kids weren’t connected.”
Balderas added he hopes to boost access to the required technology for students and training for teachers and parents.
On Tuesday, the Edmonds School Board will review the hybrid schedule and other reopening topics during a public study session.