Not all students are learning from home this fall due to COVID-19.
Some private schools are open for in-person learning, and many child-care facilities have set up learning centers for those in school.
In Poulsbo, the Adventist School started last week with 21 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Principal Judelle McCormick said attendance almost doubled from last year after the community found out the school was planning in-person education.
“Spring was a telling time for many parents,” she said. “It was quite a strain.” Their students “did not thrive in that learning atmosphere.”
Her school shut down last March during the lockdown, and students were forced to distance learning. But it developed a Safe Start plan, which Gov. Jay Inslee required of public schools but not private ones.
McCormick said she wanted to make sure parents were comfortable knowing they were taking all the necessary precautions.
Even though it’s like an old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse, the small number of students means social distancing is manageable. They also will wear masks and the building will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
“We want to stay open,” she said, adding if something happened they would have to close for a few weeks or so for quarantine.
To reduce potential exposure, McCormick said the number of visitors in the building will be limited.
“It’s uncharted territory for us,” she said. “We pray it goes well.”
As for the school itself, which started in 1984, it has two teachers and two aides. Instruction follows state, along with Adventist, standards. Older kids mentor younger ones through “Reading Buddies” and other activities. Classes include: Language Arts, Mathematics, Bible, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music and Physical Education.
“It’s a cool collaboration,” she said, adding most of the students do not attend the associated church. “We’ve got kids from all different backgrounds.”
McCormick said once kids start there they usually stick with it.
“We develop close bonds. It’s like family,” she said.
But like any family, there can be issues.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” she said. “If you don’t get along … it’s difficult to stay” at the school.
Daily Screening: Students and staff will be screened prior to entry of the building. No one will enter if they show symptoms of COVID-19 or if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID in the previous 14 days. Every morning, staff will use an infrared thermometer to check their temperature. Anyone with a fever of 100 (degrees) or higher will not be allowed to enter and be asked to stay at home until they are symptom-free for at least 72 hours.
Face masks: Everyone will be required to wear one inside. If they have a medical condition they must wear a face shield. They don’t have to wear one outside, provided that they maintain physical distancing. The school will provide a mask to those who forget.
Physical distancing: Is required at all times. Desks will be 6 feet apart. Students should not congregate in bathrooms, hallways, or when washing hands or filling up water bottles.
Regular cleaning: The school will increase frequency of deep cleaning and daily facility cleaning and disinfecting especially on commonly touched surfaces. Teachers and students will disinfect commonly used surfaces at the end of breaks, lunch time and school. Disposable gloves are available.
Personal hygiene: Handwashing and hand sanitizer will be frequently used – upon entering school; before and after meals; after recess, breaks and PE; after coughing, sneezing or blowing the nose; after using the restroom; and other times as needed.
Altered instruction: All assignments will be posted to Google Classroom so that not only students in the classroom, but also students at home can access materials. As many assignments as possible will be turned in digitally. Students will be given breaks outside in between classes to accommodate a break from face coverings. Students will be provided with their own supplies of pencils, paper, art supplies, manipulatives, etc. and will not be shared.
Altered facilities: The school has invested in touchless facilities to promote safety and cleanliness. Students will be required to bring a water bottle to school and will not use drinking fountains. A touchless water bottle filler station is in the hallway. Touchless toilet flushing, hand washing, soap dispensing, and paper towel dispensing will be used. An air purifier will be running continuously in each classroom.
Universal screening: Social-emotional learning, such as self-understanding and self-regulation, are skills that allow students to learn and access academic content and deal with change. Teachers will design instruction with a social and emotional lens.
West Sound Academy
After hoping to start the year in a hybrid model, this school, like public ones, started with remote learning Aug. 17. However, it decided to split the year up into sixths, so it will be figuring out soon what it will be using when its second pod starts Oct. 1.
The decision was made after surveying parents, students and staff, finding out their comfort levels related to COVID.
“Everyone was disappointed,” said Susan Trower, director of library and information services.
She said they did extreme planning working with the state coming up with a blended model they can use later this year with seniors actually being in school one day a week, with the other grades twice a week.
The school is set up for its 103 students to return, with a kiosk out front where their temps will be taken. Only larger classes would be used, so desks can be 6 feet apart. Lockers have been removed to provide more space. And air circulating fans have been installed.
Even remotely, students are going to be able to take classes like PE, music and theater, where they plan to perform radio dramas.
Barrie Hillman, head of school, last week wanted to give newer students a chance to get to know each other, so 24 of them came to school on different days at different times for various activities.