Waitsburg School District will open online education only
Board members voted to move instruction to an online platform, no in-person instruction in September
August 13, 2020
WAITSBURG—The Waitsburg School board called an emergency meeting on Friday, August 7, to discuss the Fall 2020 reopening plan. The board voted to adopt an online reopening plan for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
The recommendation for an online-only opening was made following the announcement of online plans from other schools in the county and a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Walla Walla County. As of Monday, August 10, there was only one confirmed case of the virus in Waitsburg, and 544 cases in the county. Walla Walla County’s infection rate is five times higher than what has been deemed safe for in-person learning.
At a previous meeting, Superintendent Mark Pickel said he was hopeful students would have the chance to return to in-person learning in September, but student and staff safety was the district’s top priority.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced earlier in the week that it was unsafe for most students across Washington State to attend in-person instruction. OSPI urged schools to move towards online instruction, but state officials said they would not mandate online learning at this time. It was recommended to prioritize in-person instruction for elementary and special needs students.
Walla Walla Public Schools and College Place Public Schools announced last week that they were implementing online reopening plans.
Board members, teachers, staff, and parents on the Zoom meeting had questions including about teacher availability, schedules, special needs students, and students that require extra time with a teacher. Superintendent Pickel did not have answers about specifics but said he was meeting with the necessary staff and committees to develop a detailed plan on Monday. Information will be released as the district develops a more comprehensive plan.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 20, at 6 p.m. The board will continue meeting remotely on Zoom. Instructions to connect to the meeting are on the school’s website, http://www.waitsburgsd.org.