White Salmon Schools delay reopening decision

The White Salmon Valley School Board delayed a decision on what model of education the district will use once school reopens in the fall.

A vote was originally planned for Thursday evening’s regular board meeting but was not placed on the agenda, with Superintendent Jerry Lewis citing the need to regroup with the task forces created to tackle the problem of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. A special meeting to vote on the matter has been scheduled for Monday evening.

The Board seemed to reach a consensus upon receiving input from the administration team and public health officials to start school with a remote learning model, then to transition to a hybrid model.

Monday’s special meeting should have more insight into the details of which hybrid model the board prefers.

Superintendent Jerry Lewis said regardless, the district must have a system of Continuous Distance Learning 2.0, which is essentially remote learning, in place by the time school starts. According to the Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction’s planning guide, each school district must be able to “shift from in person, face-to-face instruction to continuous remote learning should they need to close school facilities in the short- or long-term.”

The district plan for reopening school, once approved by school board officials, will then be submitted to OSPI and the state Board of Education for further approval.

In preparing for implementing a stronger system of remote learning then the district had in the spring, the school board voted Thursday afternoon to order 450 Google Chromebooks through funding from the CARES Act, a 1:1 ratio according to Lewis, to provide more technology access to students, although the devices will need Wifi.

Lewis said he is discussing how to resolve the issue of dead spots in the community so that students can access remote learning.

Athletic Director Howard Kreps confirmed to the board that Cross Country will be the only sport available in the district starting in the fall. Traditional fall sports, including football, girls’ soccer and volleyball have been moved to the spring, the WIAA announced and will play for eight weeks, including playoffs. This poses a tricky situation for administrators, who must abide by scheduling procedures, such as how practices are not usually scheduled on dead weeks.

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