Washington goes with on-site learning

WASHINGTON — The Washington school board approved the recommendation to start school with on-site learning with a face-covering requirement.

Superintendent Willie Stone said he recommended on-site because of many factors including students who live in adverse homes and parents who need day care solutions.

Stone provided other information for parents surrounding the virtual learning option. The virtual option is a semester-long commitment. Those who start school and then want to switch to virtual have a two-week grace period to sign up. Students who choose the virtual schooling can participate in extracurricular activities.

Washington schools have set a threshold of 15 percent positivity rate for switching to a hybrid model combining in-person education with online learning.

School board members voiced concerns about switching kids back and forth between on-site and hybrid if the positivity rate quickly changes above and below 15 percent.

Stone said there will be at least a week’s notice to parents and students if there is a change.

Face coverings will be required for students over fifth grade. Those younger will wear the face masks in public areas and periodically throughout the day.

The school is requiring either masks or shields — other coverings such as bandannas will not be accepted.

The face-covering requirement was approved 5-2.

School board members also discussed specifics of the return-to-learn such as teacher sick leave and plans for positive tests and exposure.

Stone said the reason the board will not vote on the return-to-learn plan because the administration needs to have flexibility and be able to take advice and change as things progress.

Stone said this version of the return-to-learn plan is the best they have done. Stone also said it will not be the best overall.

“In two weeks, our return to learn will look differently,” Stone said. “We’ll make tweaks to it to make sure we’re doing the best for our kids.”