North Kitsap School District will be “staying the course” through the remainder of the school year with a commitment to a full-time schedule this fall.
In a video sent to NKSD families, superintendent Lauryn Evans touted the success of returning all students to school in the past two weeks after over a year of being a virtual school.
“This past year has presented enormous challenges for everyone in our community and by banding together we have persevered and come forward better together,” Evans said.
Students began returning to school in late January, beginning with elementary school students attending in a “hybrid” learning model. Students were split into two cohorts, attending morning and afternoon classes four days a week.
In March middle and high school students began returning to the classroom under a modified schedule. Again, students were split into cohorts that would attend school two days a week.
From the beginning the district’s mantra has been, “Think big, start small and go slow,” and it is the success of that mantra that has made the transition back to school successful.
“I realize that sometimes by moving slowly it’s a little frustrating, and it has definitely taken us some time to find the procedure and protocols to safely implement a return to in-person learning. However, because of our slow and steady progress and our slow and steady approach, we have had zero transmission rates of COVID in our schools,” Evans said.
NKSD is setting its sights on the 2021-22 school year using the same slow and steady approach in hopes of having students back full-time in the classroom. Evans noted that things may still look different due to the district following closely with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state government.
“It is going to look a little different than pre-pandemic times, however, we will be looking at having students in for a full schedule each and every day once we get back in the fall months,” Evans said.
Recently the CDC and Gov. Jay Inslee announced that students in school could close the 6-foot social distancing gap to 3 feet, which could allow schools to accommodate more students.
However, NKSD has chosen to stick with the 6-foot distance for the remainder of this school year as closing the gap could cause some logistical issues on shared spaces like hallways and lunch rooms, as well as for transportation routes.
Another reason for not closing the gap until fall is based on the now-established routine in the schools and to disrupt it would be an unnecessary distraction, she said.
“We have our students and families in a routine, and just started to have our secondary students back, and we want to continue the progress and growth that our families are having with this new schedule,” Evans said.
The question that remains for the school district in the immediate future is what the end of the school year will look like? What will graduation and other celebrations look like as more people are vaccinated?
Evans said that updates will be happening weekly to allow families to plan for potential celebrations, but there is no firm setting on what is being done for graduation as of yet.