It’s been a long time coming, but students in the White River School District will head back to classrooms – on an all-day, every day basis – on Monday, April 19.
It’s been about a year since students in the Buckley-based district have experienced a “normal” schedule. They have responded to changes brought about by COVID-19, along with the rest of the world, and learned to live with a hybrid model. Those changes impacted a big chunk of the 2019-20 academic year and all of this year, so far.
Across the river in the Enumclaw School District, there has been no announcement about when students might return.
White River’s big news was shared Friday in an email sent to students’ parents and guardians.
In her letter, Superintendent Janel Keating Hambly first referenced the announcement by Gov. Jay Inslee, made a day earlier, that students can now be spaced at 3-foot intervals, rather than the 6-foot minimum that had been enforced.
“As you can imagine this will have a big impact on how many students can be in classrooms,” the superintendent wrote. “We are very excited to announce that we are making plans to return our K-12 students to full-day, full-time instruction starting on Monday, April 19th. This means students will come to school Monday-Friday and stay all day.”
She added that the shift will not come easily.
“Needless to say, there is a lot of planning that will take place over the next few weeks,” Keating Hambly’s email stated. “Many considerations need to be made to maintain a safe learning environment for our students and a safe working environment for our staff.” For example, Friday, April 16, has been deemed a day for teachers to get their classrooms ready for a full return of students.
The shift to full-time schooling could also be rejected by some parents, out of fears about coronavirus. Assistant Superintendent Scott Harrison said the district will make accommodations for those who want to stick with distance learning.
While sharing the news of a return to “normal,” Keating Hambly issued a reminder that the pandemic isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
“I just want to reinforce the reminders that, as much as we all want to, now is not the time to let down our guard,” she wrote, adding the importance of wearing masks and highlighting the benefits of COVID testing.
“I know that participating in COVID testing is no one’s favorite thing to do,” she wrote, but added that testing is a key step in curtailing transmission rates.
Another factor that could play a role in spreading the virus is spring break, set for the week of April 5-9 in the White River School District.
“As we look ahead to spring break, warmer weather, and longer days,” the superintendent concluded, “I just urge you to continue to wear your mask, keep your ‘circle’ small, and stay out in the open wherever possible while visiting.”