Sydney Fortner and her mother, Laura Gattermeir Fortner, join the Mount Si High School Class of 2020 Parade and Graduation held June 19. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley School District

Sydney Fortner and her mother, Laura Gattermeir Fortner, join the Mount Si High School Class of 2020 Parade and Graduation held June 19. Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley School District

Questions remain for return to school in the Valley

Summer is here, but school officials are busy figuring out what fall will look like.

School is out in the Valley, but with the coronavirus pandemic showing no sign of slowing, it’s unclear what the end of summer may bring.

Details on a return to school for students in the Snoqualmie Valley School District remain relatively scarce. State and local officials are planning for at least a partial return this fall.

The district is wrestling with the same questions as other districts around the state. Carolyn Malcolm, spokesperson for the Snoqualmie Valley School District, said they are meeting with staff and district families to figure out what next year will look like. They have to balance a desire to resume as much in-person education as possible with state health requirements.

“This is a complex issue with many considerations, and we need time to work through all the details thoroughly and thoughtfully,” Malcolm said in an email.

The district is analyzing each school at a classroom-by-classroom level to see what new classroom capacities are given 6-foot social distancing guidelines. Laptops returned by graduating seniors will be reassigned to all incoming 6th-grade students in the fall. New devices will be purchased as needed.

New meal service models are being explored. Additional training will be given to teachers on Schoology (the online learning management system) to support a consistent platform among teachers for assignments.

“Given the uncertainties around the pandemic, we will also plan for contingencies around an outbreak for another statewide closure by the governor,” according to a press release from the district.

Guidelines were also laid out by Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal. They include keeping 6 feet of space between students; requiring students and staff to wear masks; health monitoring to make sure no one comes to school when sick; and taking and requiring student attendance.

The Snoqualmie Valley School District is using survey data from staff, students and parents on remote learning to inform decisions. More specific details are expected by the week of July 6.

On June 11, Superintendent Reykdal announced classrooms would reopen this fall and operate in accordance with social distancing, good hygiene practices and other Department of Health requirements. The school year will be the standard 180 days.

There’s various versions of how a school day could look. One includes retaining distance learning for some grades while bringing others back. Another proposal could see students attending school on a rotating schedule. A third proposal calls for offering improved distance learning similar to what schools have been doing since they were shuttered in March.

In subsequent video addresses, Reykdal said in almost every district there will be different forms of learning than before the pandemic. Most districts will not be able to bring every student back to the classroom.

In a June 20 video, Reykdal addressed the issue of mask-wearing requirements directly.

“I know it’s tough. I know a lot of you don’t think this is right, and I know we live in a country where we really kind of value the liberty of our expression in many ways, and how we dress. But there are a lot of safety precautions in our schools,” he said. “We require closed toes shoes, for example, in PE. And we require goggles and other face shields in all of our science environments.”

Families are being encouraged to drive, walk or bike their students to school. School buses will still be available, but they will have boarding protocols to keep students from cramming onto the busses at the same time.

North Bend and Snoqualmie have had far fewer COVID-19 cases than other areas of King County. As of June 24, North Bend had only 10 positive cases, and Snoqualmie had 21 cases with two hospitalizations. Fall City had three cases and Carnation had none. Duvall has had 19 positive cases so far.

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