The Arlington School District plans to hold full five-day in-person instruction when students return to class next September.
Classes have been held online or only part-time in-person since they initially closed for the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.
The district’s board of directors approved the decision to fully re-open during their May 10 board meeting.
“This has been our goal all along,” said Gary Sabol, director of communications for the Arlington School District.
District staff created a six-step process to reopen last year, which began with full distance learning.
“That was challenging because we had never done something like that before,” said Sabol.
They’ve moved through each of the reopening steps over the last school year slowly to make sure each step could be done safely.
The district will move to the final step of the plan this fall when they come back from summer break.
“This is the right time. We have a few weeks left this school year so we felt we could really make a plan over the summer,” said Sabol.
Administrators with the school district have been in consultation with teachers and staff for each step of the process, he said.
“We’ve been working with our teachers union and our classified staff union throughout this process,” said Sabol. “I think it was because of that clear communication that we were able to open all students into a hybrid model even before it began being required by the state."
Although the Committed Distance Learning option will not come back next year, parents that want to keep their students in the Arlington Online Program will have that option.
“Some of the parents have asked about that,” said Sabol.
District officials plan to look at other districts' plans and safety measures during the summer.
“There are some districts that have already gone to five-days-a-week instruction,”said Sabol, and officials have already begun touring some of those sites.
“We may need to purchase large pop-up tents for lunch or other safeguards,” he said.
The district is also taking advice from state and local organizations as well.
“We’re always relying on the guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Snohomish Health District,” said Sabol.
As the coronavirus pandemic appears to be waning, all districts in the state are required to submit a plan by June 1 about how they will support students' recovery needs in terms of both academics and emotional/social support.
“Currently we’re surveying some of our families and students about what sort of resources they need,” said Sabol.
Those supports could include credit recovery, new language acquisition, career readiness or social needs, he said.
Efforts to support credit recovery are already underway with free Arlington summer school this year, as well as summer programs.
Sabol said the district appreciates local families who have stayed patient through a very challenging year.
“Thanks to our families and staff,” he said.
“It has been a challenging year for all these groups,” he said. “This has been a long haul.”