11th hour decision delays NKSD students to January

The North Kitsap School District will not be welcoming students back Nov. 9 – it won’t be until Jan. 11, 2021.

NKSD Superintendent Laurynn Evans posted a letter on the district website that details the sudden decision to push back the start date for in-person learning.

“This morning we had to make the very difficult decision to pause our return to in-person learning… I realize this news creates a mix of emotions for our students, staff and families,” Evans said. “We will now set our sights on beginning in-person instruction for our youngest learners…”

Evans states two factors contributed to this last-minute decision: Rising cases of COVID-19 in the north end of Kitsap County and a lack of staff to support sending students back to school, even at a hybrid level.

“First, we have not been able to appropriately staff several critical areas of operations, including transportation, food/nutrition services, para-educators and certificated teachers.,” she said.

“We have exhausted all of our available resources, including bringing back employees from furlough and using all substitutes, and yet we are still short by approximately 30 staff who are essential to safely reopen our schools.”

The district still plans to send some students back on Nov. 9, particularly special needs students, a move supported by the Kitsap Public Health District and the state Department of Health.

“We are still moving forward with our plans to bring in some of our highest-need learners for in-person learning in small groups starting next week. KPHD and DOH recommendations support in-person learning for high needs learners. We will be working directly with affected families to determine daily and weekly schedules based on each student’s learning plan,” Evans said.

The district still hopes to bring all students back for the 2021 portion of the school year but is still planning to move forward with its limited exposure by only allowing pre-K through second grade on campus in January.