EVERETT — School districts have about two months to figure out what instruction will look like this fall.
If enough public health thresholds are met, the Everett School District wants to welcome back more than 21,200 students to campuses and classrooms in September.
“Our hope is to get as many students into a classroom as possible,” district spokesperson Kathy Reeves said.
Between now and then, school leaders across the state are sorting out how to resume in-class education and determine whether it is even possible. They will have to consider spacing, sanitizing, schedules, transportation and a host of other factors up for state approval.
The Everett School District’s deadline to submit a plan to the state Office of the Superintendent of Instruction and the Washington State Board of Education is Aug. 22. Statewide, districts must file their plans within two weeks of the fall start date.
State Superintendent Chris Reykdal earlier this month said students could return to classrooms if safety rules are followed. That green light’s contingent on COVID-19 cases staying flat or dropping, which hasn’t happened recently.
Districts must include their community in the reopening plans, per a state requirement.
The Everett School District wants to hear what concerns and worries guardians, parents, staff, teachers and others have about the coming school year.
“The school is such a big part of the community, so any community member’s feedback is wanted and appreciated,” Reeves said.
The district had one forum earlier this week and a second one is set for June 30 via Zoom audio and video conference, which is capped by a software license at 300 participants. Registration is required and can be done online at www.everettsd.org/Page/36375.
The district conducted surveys in April and last week about remote learning. Results from the latest 2,200 surveys weren’t available as of Wednesday. April’s survey responses showed that, on a scale of excellent, very good, good, fair and poor, over 77% were between good and excellent when asked about the district providing learning opportunities for their child or children.
Responses in the five-question survey drew the most criticism over how the district provided social and emotional resources and support. The top response was “good,” with almost 11% responding “poor.”
“We know not every student was served the way we like, that could have been done in our buildings,” school board President Caroline Mason said.
This weekend, the district is launching an online survey asking people how they’re feeling about the coming school year and what they’d like to see.
“We need to understand how it was,” Mason said. “If you don’t have a student at home, you don’t understand exactly what the experiences were.”
If in-person instruction resumes, the Everett School District will ask students to bring their own face coverings, required under the state’s guidelines, but will have some available, as well, Reeves said. Anyone who comes on campus will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and asked if they’ve had close contact with someone who tested positive for it.
Distance is a critical consideration for the district, where some schools already are over their original capacity and use portable units.
Should Everett students not return to campus, the district is making contingencies for remote learning or a hybrid option. School leaders are also considering who would be allowed back inside the schools, such as volunteers.