Central Valley School District moved Monday to follow Spokane Health District recommendations and begin the school year with distance learning only.
“We are excited to welcome students back virtually on Sept. 9th,” Superintendent Ben Small said in a letter to parents issued shortly after County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz issued recommendations to do just that.
Like most districts, Central Valley had been planning for several scenarios for its 15,000 students in the face of rising COVID-19 numbers in Spokane County.
“While our goal was to open our school buildings for in-person learning, we now know that given current conditions with COVID-19, virtual learning will be necessary to protect the health of our students, families, teachers, staff and community,” Small said in a virtual press conference Monday afternoon.
Central Valley’s announcement was on the heels of a similar decision by Spokane Public Schools. Not long after, Cheney Public Schools also announced that the school year will start online-only for most students.
CV families will have three choices, but must decide by Aug. 21. That date serves as a planning deadline for staff, Small said.
CV’s approach breaks families into three broad groups: those seeking an earliest-possible return to the classroom, those who would prefer to stick with distance learning, and those who aren’t sure.
The choices include the following:
• A virtual start option for those “with a preference to transition to in-person when it is safe to do so.” This option would allow students to keep the same teachers from their neighborhood.
“If you’re confident that you want your child to return to in-person learning when it becomes available, this is the best choice for you,” the district said in Small’s letter.
• Self-paced virtual learning, with a preference to stay virtual for the remainder of the school year.
Students who choose this option will “work at their own pace” to complete assignments, but will be partnered with a specialized teacher.
The district recommends this option for those who are leaning toward staying with distance learning.
• School-paced virtual learning, which will be teacher-led and allows students to retain those same virtual-learning teachers for the rest of the school year.
In Small’s letter, he notes that “this option signals your intent to remain virtual for the school year but allows for flexibility to attend school in-person if you would like to when it becomes available.”
Families who choose the first option would be first in line to return to in-school instruction, when and if that day arrives.
“We encourage families to make the choice that is best for them. CVSD will continue to provide high quality educational experiences for all of our students, no matter which pathway you choose,” Small said.
However, Small said the district would attempt to accommodate families who want to change their learning model.
“We’re going to try to be very nimble on this,” Small said.
A spokesperson at Mead said the district’s board will meet Thursday to approve a reopening plan.
The Cheney School Board approved the district’s reopening plan on Monday.
“This is very difficult news to share as I know our students need and want to be in school and back on campus,” said Cheney Superintendent Rob Roettger in a letter to parents and students. “While this is our desire the COVID-19 situation within our county continues to escalate, thus not allowing in-person school to occur at this time.”
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