The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Katie Teachout
The Journal 

Local school districts vary on reopening

 

Last updated 8/14/2020 at 10:44am

Katie Teachout

Lind-Ritzville Middle School principal Darrell Lembke works on back-to-school plans before a meeting of administrators last week. Lind-Ritzville School District will be using distance learning for all students.

RITZVILLE – Lind-Ritzville School District is choosing to start the 2020-21 school year Aug. 31 with all students engaged in distance learning. Superintendent Don Vanderholm said the decision was based on the "strong recommendations" from the governor, and state and county health departments.

"Our primary goal is still to open our campuses for student learning as soon as possible. Even so, we may have to operate schools under these restrictions for the entire school year, or at least until things dramatically improve and the guidelines are modified," Vanderholm said.

Vanderholm said the school district will be utilizing online curriculums/programs that include pre-recorded lessons and learning activities that students can access anytime.

The school board met Monday evening, Aug. 10, for a special meeting to approve the plan. A reopening community meeting is scheduled for Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m. where the plan will be presented in detail. The meeting link will be posted on the school district website.

Following an Aug. 6 school board meeting, Kahlotus Superintendent Jose-de-Jesus Melendez said the board voted to open for a full regular schedule on campus, which will include an optional flexible distance learning at home for families who choose that option. Melendez said the plan would be submitted to the Benton Franklin Health Department for approval early this week.

Melendez reported a survey sent to Kahlotus school families showed 37.50% of parents agreeing to adhering to specific safety/health guidelines including social distancing, masks, and twice-daily temperature checks; while 56.25% did not agree. Another 6.25% responded they would send their student for on-campus learning "regardless."

Asked about a flexible schedule with two days on campus and three days "learning from home," with Wednesdays set aside as deep-cleaning days, 37.50% said they did not prefer this option. Another 62.50% said they did not prefer the option, but would accept it if that was the choice.

Given the option to "opt out" from both a full on-campus schedule or a flexible schedule, 7.14% said they will do full time at-home learning, 57.14% said they will do the flexible or full time campus schedule, 28/57% said they will only do full time campus schedule, and 7.14% said they will only do the flexible schedule. Seventy-five percent of families said they have strong internet access at home, and 25% said they do not.

Washtucna School District was scheduled to present their reopening plan to a special meeting of the school board Aug. 10 for board approval, as this paper went to press. Superintendent Todd Spear said the goal is to offer three different learning options through a hybrid schedule combining remote and in-person learning.

Sprague-Lamont School District Superintendents Bill Ressel and Todd Spear said a committee has put together a viable reopening plan, which will be presented for approval at the Aug. 12 school board meeting. Afterward, the plan will be presented to parents, students and community members via the school webpage as well as email, according to the administrators.

Benge School District did not respond to requests from The Journal on back to school plans before this issue went to press.

Author Bio

Katie Teachout, Editor

Katie Teachout is the editor of The Ritzville Adams County Journal. Previously, she worked as a reporter at The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, the Oroville Gazette-Tribune, Northern Kittitas County Tribune and the Methow Valley News. She is a graduate of Western Washington University.

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