EVERETT, Wash. - Everett Public Schools announced it will wait to incorporate all grades back into the classroom until Jan. 11, 2021 at the earliest. The district is currently in full remote-learning.
EPS officials said in a press release Tuesday that younger grades will be incorporated into classrooms first - Developmental Kindergarten, Developmental Pre-K, Life Skills and Strive students - on Nov. 16.
Remaining students will be incorporated into in-person learning starting Jan. 11, 2021 at the earliest and only if COVID-19 infections are low enough, district officials say.
“We realize this may be disappointing for many of our students, families, and staff, but we believe it is necessary due to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases over the previous several weeks,” Superintendent Ian Saltzman said.
“We look forward to bringing all our students back to the classroom, but understand we need to start with smaller groups, so we are bringing back our most vulnerable students first,” Saltzman added.
EPS says they made the decision after receiving feedback from Let's Connect sessions and data indicating a significant increase in virus cases in Snohomish County.
The district says they also do not want to implement a hybrid learning model in order to avoid constant weekly changes to scheduling, and possibly having to shut down school buildings if a virus outbreak occurs during the school year.
“The health, safety, and well-being of our school community remains our top priority,” Salzman said. “We are following sound protocols aligned with expert health guidance to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect everyone’s health.”
For parents like Crystal Stringham, the last few months with her kids learning from home have been a challenge.
However, it’s a challenge she says is worth it when thinking of the alternative.
“What’s safer? Is it safe to send your child to school and have them get sick and bring it home to your elders, then feel the guilt of something happening, or is it safer to keep them remote?” she said.
Families can also refer to the district's COVID-19 handbook for additional information about classroom structure changes this school year.