Edmonds School District leaders clarified Thursday that while they are working to return kindergarten through second-grade students to school buildings next month, they plan to provide variety of in-person learning opportunities to grade 3-12 students remaining in remote learning.
Last Friday, Feb. 19, the district announced a deal had been struck with the Edmonds Education Association to move into Stage 2 of the district’s school building reentry plan. Under Stage 2, kindergarten through second-grade students would be able to return to in-person learning starting March 22.
In a letter sent Thursday, Feb. 25 to district families, staff detailed plans to offer in-person support for grades 3-12 via remote learning hubs, where students can access academic support, social emotional learning and school facilities like stable internet connections and/or places to do school work.
“It’s more of a creative approach that doesn’t quite have that A/B Hybrid model,” said district spokesperson Harmony Weinberg.
The letter goes on to clarify language from the district’s Feb. 19 message regarding in-person opportunities being extended to students with “specific needs.” According to the Feb. 19 memo, staff will be working to identify students “who need extra support with academics or their ability to engage in remote learning.”
Since students have been in remote learning, the district has turned to remote learning hubs to offer support to students most in need. Last fall, the district opened Edmonds Hub for McKinney-Vento students. Recently, the district also began offering in-person services to students in the English learners program.
Following the Feb. 19 announcement, reports that students in grades 3-12 would not be returning to classrooms had some parents concerned that the district was neglecting students. However, Weinberg said staff does not have the time needed to prepare to return that many students and there is little the district could do before June, logistically.
“We’re getting too far into the school year it was deemed infeasible by both parties that we would not logically be able to make (bringing back all students) happen,” she said.
According to Weinberg, the Feb. 19 update aimed to provide families with as much information about Stage 2 that was available at the time. Though the letter mentioned Stage 3, she said the main focus of the update was to provide information primarily on Stage 2 as the district began to move in that direction.
“The plan was figure out Stage 2, get that going and then we will focus on our third- through 12-graders,” she said. “The work for third- through 12th-graders is happening now.”
With only four months left, staff are juggling plans for the remainder of the school year as well as summer learning opportunities and the fall.
“We are looking at the fall but I would say right now we want to get our Stage 2 kiddos back into our building next month,” she said. “That is taking an extreme amount of work from our principals, our teaching staff.”
As faculty and staff prepare to bring more students back on campus, Weinberg said they want to make sure it is done in the safest way and compared the work to “the most complicated puzzle of their careers.”
“It’s COVID(-19), so we’re building the plane as we’re in the air,” she said. “I think we need to keep that perspective.”
–By Cody Sexton