EVERETT — School is back in session, virtually, for some districts across Snohomish County.
Since Gov. Jay Inslee ordered all schools in the state to close earlier this month to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, districts have been working on creative ways to provide meals and childcare to students who depend on them. The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which oversees education in Washington, expects all public school districts to have an online learning plan in place by Monday.
“It’s not going to replace the typical ‘child in the classroom’ and I don’t think anybody intended it to,” Snohomish School District Superintendent Kent Kultgen said during a news conference Friday. “Logistically, it’s very complex.”
Kultgen’s district, like many others, has spent the last two weeks pairing students with laptops and internet hot spot devices. A thousand devices went out to students, he said, but that hasn’t solved technology issues.
It’s difficult to track how many students are checking in online, how much time they spend on school work, and whether work should be graded, he said. The situation will evolve over the weeks.
“As educators, we know we’ll tackle these problems,” he said. “Education next Friday may not look like what it looks like today.”
In the Northshore School District, teachers are expected to roll out their distance learning program on Monday.
The emphasis will be on connecting with students and providing schoolwork they can get started on, the district said in a letter to families.
Northshore’s plan also comes with a schedule families can follow to provide structure to learning, the district said.
Not all local districts are making the jump to a fully online curriculum.
That isn’t the expectation, said Katy Payne, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
“We believe most districts will be using a combination of media to provide learning opportunities for their students,” she said.
For some districts, it could be instruction through books, workbooks, phone, paper packets, video conferences or videos, she said. For others, it could be contacting families, setting up regular check-ins with students, surveying what resources they have at home, and working to fill any gaps.
In Marysville, concerns about student equity led administrators to stop short of a fully-online curriculum, the district’s website said. Students and their parents can still find review materials and other learning resources on the district website.
For high school seniors across the county, the focus is on filling graduation requirements.
In Snohomish, staff are working with each 12th-grader individually to ensure they earn enough credits.
At the same time, they may miss academic milestones.
Gov. Inslee’s order to close schools lasts until April 24, but could be extended.
“What will graduation ceremonies look like?” Kultgen asked. “Will we even have a graduation ceremony?”