OKANOGAN – Classes in the Okanogan School District will be online when school starts this fall.
Superintendent Ashley Goetz presented the 100 percent remote start plan to the school board during a special meeting Aug. 3.
“Collaboratively with the administrative team and Okanogan County health officials, we believe due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 in our community and the priority of student, staff and community health and well-being a remote learning start is the only option at the current time,” she said.
Ideally, remote learning will be a short-term situation, but the district has been told the need may continue throughout the fall and into winter, depending on what happens with local conditions, she said.
“The school district will continue to work closely with Okanogan (County) Public Health, as well as monitor incidence rates, to begin phasing in students as soon as it is deemed safe,” she said.
She said staff reduction is in the offing.
“Our services are very different in a remote instructional model, as opposed to having students in our buildings on a part-time or full-time basis. We still do not know what this will look like and are working with the bargaining unit to try and minimize the effect,” she said.
The school board was to act on a final reopening plan last night, Aug. 11.
Reaction from parents on social media to the all-online plan was largely supportive, although some expressed concern for para-professionals’ jobs and students on individualized education plans.
Some parents asked about computers and Internet access, while another said her children miss in-person school and need the social skills acquired there. Another said her elementary students hated going online for school last spring.
Others praised the administration for the work they put into details of reopening and concern for safety.
“I know these decisions aren’t easy,” wrote Ashlie Kennedy. “I appreciate the hard work you (Goetz), the board, staff and teachers do for the kids and us parents.”
“While it is far from what we all want, I know, as I’m sure many others do, that you have and will continue to work toward getting our students back in the classroom as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so,” wrote Craig Nelson. “I hope we can all work together to make that a reality soon.”
Before making the decision to go online at the beginning of the year, the district came up with four options for starting: Online with teacher interaction, combination of online and in-person instruction, phasing in groups of students to in-person instruction, and completely online.