The Arlington School District plans to bring back fourth and fifth graders for in-school learning on Feb. 16 and are considering a March return for middle school students.
Students are returning under a hybrid model, and will only be at school two days a week with online learning the rest of the time.
Superintendent Chrys Sweeting proposed the Feb. 16 date during the Feb. 2 school board meeting, as well as potential dates of March 15 for sixth graders, March 22 for seventh and eighth graders and April 12 for high school.
“I believe the administrators would support these, although there are still logistics to work out,” she said.
The Feb. 16 date was approved during the meeting while the district still considers the return date for middle and high school students.
“We will be prepared and ready to bring students in grade 4 and 5 back to campus and I’m sure the parents are excited and happy to hear that,” said school board president Judy Fay.
The state Department of Health guidelines say that middle and high school students should return under hybrid models if the daily case rate is under 300 per 100,000 people.
With three weeks of declining cases, the two-week average for the county was 184 cases per 100,000 people as of Jan. 30.
“Thank you for our community for washing their hands and keeping everyone safe,” said school board member Mary Levesque. “I’m very proud we’re bringing kids back when case rates are low."
Some board members hoped that middle school student and high school students could return earlier if case rates continue to drop locally.
“If the numbers keep going the direction they’re going, I would be in favor of looking more toward March 8,” said board member Sherri Kelly.
Karen Gorzela, speech pathologist at the district, said she was glad that kids were returning to campus but asked for continuing caution for staff and teachers.
“I implore the board to bring us back safely,” she said. “Please call the governor and beseech him to prioritize vaccinating teachers."
Sweeting said the district is currently working with the Stillaguamish Tribe who may be able to provide vaccines to teachers in the district.
“We have a plan that is in the works. And that plan is that all staff who want to be vaccinated can be vaccinated in the next four weeks,” said Sweeting.
As a sovereign tribal government the Stillaguamish Tribe has more authority to use their vaccine supply than U.S. government agencies.
“I say that I humbly accept this generosity because I know there are many individuals that want the vaccination … there’s a long waiting list,” said Sweeting.
So far, the district’s measures have not resulted in an outbreak and currently they have three positive student cases and zero staff, according to Krissa Cramer, district nurse.
Because of those cases 25 students are currently quarantined, as well as three staff members.
“That’s a safeguard. They’re not positive or symptomatic currently,” said Cramer.