Boistfort school district became the second district to move toward a hybrid model after a 5-0 vote Sunday night. Starting Sept. 24, all parents will be able to opt-in to in-person classes, where students will learn in groups of about 10.
On Monday, Lewis County commissioners applauded the district for aligning itself with Mossyrock, which was the first public district to move to a hybrid model this school year.
“Personally, I’m glad that Boistfort made that decision. I think it’s the right decision,” County Commissioner Bobby Jackson said Monday. “I think our kids need to be in school.”
According to Boistfort Superintendent Chris Clark, parents will come in beforehand for a training on how to screen their kids for COVID-19, and a run-down on how in-person classes and regulations will work. The school is for kindergarten through eighth grade and has only 91 students, and Clark said there is enough physical space in the school to bring everyone in and still social distance.
“I don’t know if we’re ‘taking the lead,’” Clark said. “We’re just doing what’s appropriate for what our community needs. We’re extremely rural, so connectivity is a concern.”
Clark also noted that a large percentage of the district’s students have special needs, and require occupational or physical therapy provided by the school.
The decision comes after the county issued a recommendation to begin some in-person classes as soon as Sept. 28, although that recommendation only included kindergarten classes and middle and high school technical classes. The recommendations contradict Gov. Jay Inslee’s own guidelines for schools in high-risk counties.
But Lewis County officials have characterized the county as leading the state in reopening schools, and Monday was Mossyrock’s first day of in-person classes. Under their hybrid model, grades K-3 and high school seniors come into school four days a week, and grades 4-11 come in two days a week, on an alternating schedule. The decision to bring students back in-person was made in a split 3-2 vote, according to Administrative Assistant Julie Ann Cole.
“We understand that there could be a change depending on if the guidelines and the recommendations of the health department improve,” Cole said.
The county assembled a team of educators and physicians to develop a county-wide strategy, and held a public meeting last week to answer questions. However, the hour and a half meeting left some participants frustrated with how many questions were left unanswered.