Home learning is beginning to pick up in districts across the state as the fourth week of a mandated school closure draws near.
Gov. Jay Inslee ordered the closure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Thursday evening, with Inslee extending the stay-at-home order through May 4, the school closure was also extended past the original end date of April 24.
In the meantime, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has tasked districts with making sure students can continue learning, even as campuses remain closed.
With the state leaving the approach largely up to districts, what that means for each of the Yakima Valley’s roughly 55,000 students varies significantly from district to district.
Here’s a look at what each has in place:
Students in Yakima School District will be expected to complete mandatory coursework, which will be graded, and to have weekly communication with their teachers. Districtwide framework for remote learning is underway, but teaching is expected to vary by class and in some cases by student.
Sunnyside School District, home to more than 6,000 students, had teachers begin contacting every student in the district this week and last week. They are identifying students who need devices or access to the internet, said district communications director Jessica Morgan. So far, most juniors and seniors have personal devices from the school, while lower grades will begin receiving them soon.
Beginning April 13, after spring break, the district will launch online learning opportunities. In the meantime, the district is developing learning plans both for a return to the classroom after the stay-at-home order, and in the scenario that learning continues remotely through the end of the school year, said Morgan.
In West Valley, devices have gone out to students in second grade and above, while the district is awaiting the delivery of devices ordered for younger students, said Anjerie Nemrow, the district’s communications director. Some hot spots have been sent out to students without internet, but another 200 new hot spots are not expected to arrive until May because of shipping complications caused by COVID-19, she said.
Grade-level teaching teams are meeting to prepare materials to use districtwide in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, elementary school students have received paper packets for learning and have access to online learning materials. At the middle school level, student work in the coming weeks will be graded with a pass or no-credit mark. High school students will receive normal letter grades, said Nemrow — something that she said could be re-evaluated as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
Toppenish School District plans to begin remote learning with 1-1 student devices on April 6. On Thursday, the district began passing out Chromebooks to students. The effort will continue Friday.
“I think it’s pretty exciting. ... If anything ever happens again, we’ll be able to roll it out. It’s a new horizon,” said Superintendent John Cerna.
Hot spots will be sent throughout the community via bus to ensure student access to the internet once learning launches after spring break. Learning will be mandatory, and will vary slightly from class to class, Cerna said. Students at the middle and high school level can expect to do most of their learning through Google Classroom, he said. High school students will receive letter grades while elementary and middle school students will be on a pass-or-fail system.
In Grandview, paper learning packets were mailed to students this week and will continue to be sent out through the school closure. They are optional and will not be graded. A survey was also set to be sent out to families Tuesday afternoon to determine student access to technology for further learning opportunities.
Selah School District teachers were making contact with students this week and preparing for remote instruction, which is expected to begin April 13, after spring break. The exception is continued school work for students in dual-credit college courses and some activities for seniors.
The district has not determined whether remote learning will be mandatory or graded.
Wapato School District has posted links to its websites for families to begin home learning activities. Grade level packets to last through April 12 are also being passed out Friday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Wapato High School, Wapato Middle School and Simcoe Elementary School. The same materials will be published on the district website’s home learning resource section for families who can download and print them at home. The work is not expected to be returned or graded. Future plans are in the works.
The East Valley School District launched optional online learning for students through Google Classroom last week. Supplemental learning supports are expected to continue through the school closure and will not be graded.
Granger School District is gradually adding distance learning resources to its website in addition to preparing learning packets to mail to each student. The work will be optional and ungraded, with the exception of credit-deficient high school students who were already doing online credit retrieval prior to the school closures.
Naches Valley School District is offering both packets and online materials to elementary and middle school students, depending on access to devices and internet. For those using paper packets, they are being distributed each Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Naches Valley Middle School. High school students are participating in online learning through Google Classroom. The district has passed out Chromebooks to some students, after assessing who was in need of support.
Students in the Zillah School District have access to optional, non-graded online enrichment opportunities broken down by grade and subject. The materials and sample schedules were “developed considering a variety of students, including students with (individualized education programs) and students who do not have access to technology or other resources,” according to the district website.
A combination of paper packets and online learning will be available to Highland School District students. Learning packets and activities have been mailed to students as well as set up in bins at school sites for family pick-up and passed out during district meal distributions. Teachers have also begun making contact with each student.
High school students already have home devices and more have been passed out to students in grades two through eight this week. Next week, kindergarten and first grade students will receive theirs. The district is also assessing how it can support student with internet needs, said Superintendent Mark Anderson.
“Not an easy task, as you can imagine. But while we work on that, we will be combining online and packet work in order to serve all our students in an equitable fashion,” he said. Home learning is not yet required, but will be beginning the week of April 13, after spring break, he said. The district is still determining how best to grade students. “All of our planning is to be ready for when/if on site schooling is canceled for the year and we shift to a new version of providing instruction,” said Anderson.
Mt. Adams School District has online enrichment resources available on its website and students will begin receiving packets for home learning as early as next week, said Superintendent Curt Guaglianone. The district has ordered several hundred Chromebooks for students and will have extra support for students without the internet, he said. Learning materials are not expected to be graded, but teachers will review work to help students continue learning, said Guaglianone. Those on track to graduate have been contacted by staff and have developed individualized graduation plans, he said.
Mabton School District has outlined suggested school home-learning schedules on its website for students at each grade level as well as relevant learning materials, to be updated weekly. Parents and students are encouraged to check the platform daily and to ensure that their phone and email information is up to date on the district’s Skyward system so teachers can contact them.
In Union Gap, teachers were connecting with each family in the district to determine access to devices and the internet as well as any family challenges, said Superintendent Liza Gredvig. The district plans to do blended learning, with a combination of online and paper-pencil learning, based on feedback so far. The district plans to iron out details with the teachers union on learning approach and continued conferencing between teachers and families. Completion and assessment expectations will be communicated to families in the near future.