Marysville School District’s pandemic recovery plan will focus on academic help, social/emotional support and efforts to ease transition back to school.
The district’s board of directors approved the plan on May 19.
School officials have surveyed parents and had forums with staff about how the district should proceed with recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, said Deputy Superintendent Chris Pearson.
A few themes came out of those discussions, including the need to support students' mental health needs, catching up for lost school time, better connections to social services and rebuilding school communities.
“We’re making a pretty big investment in student social/emotional support,” said Pearson.
The district will be hiring for positions that will be called ‘interventionist’ which are meant to provide mental health support.
“They will provide some direct support for students, but they will also help to lead teachers on how to support all students, because we know all students will need some level of help,” said Pearson.
That new mental health assistance is expected to be available at every school, although the exact details of the new staffing hasn’t been worked out yet.
Some positions may be shared between schools and some of the bigger schools may have more than one position, said Pearson.
Those new staff members are being funded with federal dollars coming from COVID-19 relief programs.
Those funds will also support academic catch-up programs, such as the district’s upcoming summer school.
“We’re running a particularly large scale summer school this year,” said Pearson. “This is an expansion of what we normally do that will be funded by federal dollars."
The summer school will be three weeks long and be available at multiple sites.
“There will be some after-school project-based learning as well,” he said.
Some of the recovery funds are also being used to support equity work, said Pearson. That is partly due to the recent racist death threats that were directed at Black students earlier in the school year.
“We want our students to come back and feel safe when they’re in school,” said Pearson.
The exact plan to improve equity is being worked on by the district’s recently hired Director of Equity and Family Engagement, who is working with students, parents and staff.
“One thing that will include is professional development for staff,” said Pearson. “It will also support family engagement with our families of color."
Recovery funds will also help keep class sizes small as the district holds on to its current roster of teachers.
“We’re making a really big investment by retaining some of our teachers,” said Pearson.
The district will likely continue with the "soft start" model for beginning the school year, he said.
“So the first three days of the school will just be for family meetings and conferences,” said Pearson.
Finally, the district wants to do more outreach to families to help them if they are struggling.
“We may have a coordinator on campus to connect families to different social services,” said Pearson. “We don’t just want to help students while they’re at school, but also help them meet basic needs such as housing."
Washington state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is requiring all districts to submit recovery plans by June of this year and will also require two check-ins next year to see how school districts are doing in the implementation of those plans.
“It’s expected that this will be a plan that will evolve and change,” said Pearson.