West Sound Academy prepares for the possibility of an online summer program

Poulsbo’s West Sound Academy has had to cancel its popular June term and TREC travel opportunities for the year of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but plans to roll on with its first summer program in 2020, whether it’s in-person or online.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s executive order barred all schools from holding in-person instruction through June 19, so it’s still unclear whether or not West Sound Academy will be able to reopen its doors in July for its summer program.

WSA’s Head of School, Barrie Hillman said the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) hasn’t officially informed them one way or the other if their campus will be allowed to open.

“We would love to have kids on campus starting in July,” Hillman said. “If the stars align … it could happen.”

If not, West Sound Academy will be able to provide most of their summer classes online through Zoom, in what’s known as WSA 2.0 — essentially an online version of their regular curriculum — as they have with their courses during the regular school year.

Generally speaking, each student logs in to the class at the same time and works with the teacher on the lesson for that class. Part of the class time is spent doing independent work, away from the screen, with the teacher on standby to help before students digitally reconvene for a closing meeting.

The summer program, which offers classes similar to those found in the academy’s June Term, is open to any high school student with a 2.0 grade-point average or better and West Sound Academy is still accepting students for this summer. High school credits are awarded upon successful completion.

Two middle school courses will not be held if onsite instruction is still banned come July, but the rest will go on as scheduled.

“It’s important that middle school students are outside a lot in the summer and that was the intention with our courses,” Hillman said.

With online learning, teachers at West Sound have gotten creative in replicating their traditional in-person instruction in an online format. In one middle school class, they are blending history and English topics together in a project in which students build their perfect society. It combines the reading of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” — a novel for young adults about a colorless dystopian society — with topical history lessons on the Great Depression and the resulting New Deal reforms.

West Sound Academy hasn’t otherwise been adversely affected by COVID-19. Hillman said the impact of the late 2000s Great Recession wasn’t felt until a couple of years afterwards.

However, enrollment has remained steady and Hillman said families have been happy with the transition to online learning, as reported to the school during recent parent-teacher conferences.

“Our enrollment numbers between this year and next year are looking flat,” Hillman said.