The plan is still tentative but the MSD Board of Directors approved limited in-person learning beginning in February
Marysville kindergartners and first graders will tentatively return to school on Feb. 8 after the district’s Board of Directors approved the first phase of reopening on Jan. 20.
Some of the details for the plan are still being worked through between school district officials and local unions for teachers and staff.
“I promised our bargaining groups that this is a tentative reopening plan because we’re still working on some of the agreements,” said Jason Thompson, superintendent for the Marysville School District, during the Jan. 20 school board meeting.
The Board of Directors unanimously approved the plan with a 4-0 vote. Director Chris Nation was not in attendance for the meeting.
The district will use an AM/PM model which brings one group of students to class in the morning and the second group in the afternoon. Both groups will do online learning on Friday.
School Board members said have received many messages urging the reopening of schools and for safety of students and staff.
According to Christopher Pearson, executive director of elementary schools at the district, 75 percent of parents were ready to send their students back to school in a survey sent out in November.
In a more recent survey that number may have increase to around 85 percent, although Pearson said they had not fully got that data back yet.
“What our families are saying to us is that they want their kids back. So I appreciate our staff is working hard to create this plan,” said School Board President Vanessa Edwards.
Pearson said the district's online learning has improved since last spring, but still presents a sub-par option compared to in-person learning.
“We still have kids that are lonely, they’re disconnected and they’re living through trauma in their homes,” said Pearson.
The Snohomish Health District has given the okay for elementary students to return to schools.
“The only guidance they haven’t given out is for secondary students,” said Thompson.
The health district still requires safety measures for elementary students though.
The Marysville School District is planning daily health screenings, re-arranging classrooms and hallways to maintain six feet of separation and other safety measures for the schools.
“The whole reason for this closure was medical safety, so we want to follow the medical officials,” said school board member Jake Murray.
The Snohomish Health District has approved the plan on paper but they do not have the workforce currently to inspect school districts, said Thompson.
“They are so busy and they are not overstaffed there. Right now, the real challenge for them is the vaccine rollout so they are not making visits,” like they were earlier in the pandemic, he said.
Thompson noted that the district is still receiving pressure from labor unions to properly follow safety measures though.
“In working with our labor groups they know all our protocols and what we need to do. So even if the health district isn’t checking on us, our labor groups will,” he said.
Board member Paul Galovin voted to approve the reopening plan but added he wanted to hear more from union members as well.
“I would like to hear more from labor leaders, but I know this plan is tentative and I will hear their voice soon,” he said.
For teachers and staff, returning to in-person learning may mean more risk and work.
“Everyone is making accommodations to get our kids back to school,” said Edwards.
She notes that the re-opening plan is still tentative and situations have changed quickly over the last year.
“With everything that is going on, this plan may change as well,” she said.
The district began planning for a reopening in summer and took the first steps on Jan. 18 by bringing ECEAP students at the Marysville Early Learning Center back to campus.Since September about 100 students have also been brought on campus as well.
“The planning really hasn’t stopped since the end of June. It consists of a lot of work relating to health and safety protocols and trying to identify the best models and supports for our kids,” said Pearson.