Touchet School District to start in a Fully Remote Learning Environment
As you are aware, Governor Inslee and Superintendent Reykdal, along with leaders in the Washington State Department of Health implemented guidelines for schools Wednesday afternoon. These guidelines intend to keep students, staff, and the larger community safe due the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While I understand their purpose, the implementation in our schools will have an immeasurable impact on all.
Today, with full support of the Touchet Board of Directors, we have made the decision to begin the 2020-2021 school year in a fully remote learning environment. Our current community COVID-19 transmission levels and rates are far above what the Washington State Department of Health recommends for a safe return to on site learning. Currently, our rate of transmission is about five times what they have deemed as safe for even a hybrid start. As we examine the trend, we realize the stark reality that we are going the wrong way.
Our leadership team has fought to continue to be flexible and adapt as new information came forward to prepare what would be the very best for our student and staff return. We understand that schools provide so much more than just academic instruction and we fully realize that we do not operate in isolation. This decision affects every child, every household, and every member of the greater Touchet community. Our schools provide support for working families, social emotional support for children, daily meals, love, and life lessons too countless to mention. However, based on the DOH guidelines, it is not safe to do this in person for at least the first portion of the school year (at a minimum the first 9-week grading period).
Therefore, we shift our focus to a remote start that will benefit from all of our planning to date. Touchet School Distict’s Full Remote “At-Home Learning” Model this fall will be much different from spring 2020. It will be much more rigorous with increased expectations for student attendance, engagement, and academic performance. We continue to plan to provide additional options and support for our most vulnerable and struggling students. We are implementing a structure where many of these students will have access to onsite instruction.
While I am heartbroken that we cannot return with face-to-face instruction this fall, I know that the staff of Touchet School District will continue to rise up to provide a phenomenal experience for students that cares for the academic, social, and emotional well-being of each. As has been the case throughout the closure and this summer, we will involve you in the process of planning for the remote return to school. Specific answers around items that I know you are thinking about will come in the upcoming weeks.
Thank you in advance for your great work thus far. I look forward to joining hands again to solve new problems with new solutions. Strong schools, communities and people are not defined by hard times, but how they respond to them.
Robert Elizondo, Touchet School District-Superintendent