Return To School Planning Updates

July 29, 2020

To our students, families, staff and the entire RSD community,

The start of the 2020-21 school year is weeks away and this is when the traditional preparations for another year of learning and exploration in our schools would be beginning. Teachers and paraeduators setting up classrooms. Cooks opening their kitchens and preparing for the many meals they provide. Secretaries answering questions and assisting families. Operations staff preparing buildings and grounds for thousands of students.

Just like the ending to the 2019-20 school year, though, the beginning of the coming school year is going to be different from what we all are accustomed to. COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to our community. Today we know that younger people, including those aged 10 – 18 and college students, are also at risk. We have many staff at risk due to age or health conditions. Not only are many sick with COVID, but some take a long time to recover, some are hospitalized, and some die. This is a terrifying disease even for those who recover. 

This commitment to safety paired with the recommendation of Benton-Franklin Health District is why the Richland School Board has decided to start the 2020-21 school year in a distance learning format. Our newly developed Continuous Learning 2.0 will provide an improved and enhanced distance learning experience, providing more consistency, accountability and certainty so students and staff can be successful. That document ties into our Return To School Plan that details the necessary considerations for reopening schools, including necessary safety precautions. We encourage everyone in the community to review both documents and check them in the future as we continue to update them.

We want nothing more than to have our students in school, where our staff can best provide them the education they need and build relationships that can encourage and inspire them. The Board, with guidance from state education and public health authorities, will establish a metric to assess when it will be safe for in-person instruction to resume in schools. Board members will review community conditions regarding COVID-19 at each regular meeting going forward so students may be brought back into schools at the earliest opportunity.

We understand the hardship this online start to the school year will cause some families. We are developing means to share childcare options and answer questions from childcare providers regarding virtual instruction. We are prepared to assist students who do not have reliable Internet access at home so they can be fully engaged in their education. We are identifying resources and building social-emotional supports into instruction to assist students in coping with the challenges they are facing.

Continue to look for updates and changes regarding instruction, school operations and more at www.rsd.edu, our dedicated Return To School Planning Updates webpage and our official Facebook and Twitter feeds. Additionally, we will send direct emails to our families and others in our community who have elected to receive them whenever we have news. Lastly, we have developed a Frequently Asked Questions document to answer the many questions we have received about reopening schools this fall.

We want to thank everyone for their patience and perseverance over the past months. On behalf of all our district and school staff, we ask for your continued grace and partnership as Together We Educate Every Student For Success.

Richland School Board                                    Dr. Shelley Redinger, Superintendent
Rick Jansons, President
Jill Oldson, Vice President
Heather Cleary
Rick Donahoe
Kari Williams


July 14, 2020

The Richland School Board will have a series of virtual town hall meetings July 21-23 for community members to provide live input on proposed models for reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year.

All meetings will be conducted through the web-based Zoom video-conferencing platform and will be roughly one hour long. A board member and district administrator will lead each meeting.

Attendees will have the opportunity to make spoken comments on the reopening models for schools and other learning options for families, such as parent-directed homeschooling through Three Rivers HomeLink or fully online teacher-directed learning through the new Richland Virtual School.

View Details Of The School Reopening Models

Learn About Three Rivers HomeLink

Learn About Richland Virtual School

View FAQ On RSD Return To School

No decisions will be made during these town hall meetings nor will board members or administrators discuss matters outside district control, such as public health requirements or direction from OSPI. Each meeting will be recorded and notes will be taken by district staff.

  • Community members making comments should keep them as brief as possible, with a limit of 1:30.
  • Any prepared statements/comments should be emailed to BoardFeedback@rsd.edu
  • After making comments, a community member must wait until all others wishing to make comments have done so before being called on again.
  • Board members and administrators will answer questions concisely during the meeting, with follow up as necessary to the community member at a later time if they provide contact information.

Meeting Schedule & Focus

Tuesday, July 21 — Elementary Schools (grades K-5)

Watch Meeting Recording

Wednesday, July 22 — Secondary Schools (grades 6-12)

Watch Meeting Recording

Thursday, July 23 — Special Education

Watch Meeting Recording


July 13, 2020

District administrators will present a variety of school reopening options to the Richland School Board at its meeting on July 14. These options range from our goal of a full return to normal school operations to the fully online Continuous Learning model required by the state, with several hybrid models combining aspects of in-person and distance learning.

Staff continue to review and amend the details of each of these options daily in a working document so the Board may have the most up-to-date information needed to determine the district’s ability to open schools safely, serve students equitably and meet requirements set by state education and public health authorities.

The district has put together a “snapshot” of this working document for families and the community at large to review. This “snapshot” represents the planning for the identified options as of the morning of Monday, July 13. It is not a final recommendation to the Board for how schools may reopen.

View Snapshot Of School Reopening Models

The district is planning to schedule virtual town hall meetings for the community to provide live input on these models before the a final recommendation is presented to the Board on July 28.


July 7, 2020

The first version of the Return To School FAQ is now available. This document, which provides answers to questions posed during the recent virtual town halls as well those submitted to the district through various channels. This is a living document—it will be updated through the coming weeks when new questions come up and if guidance and requirements set by state education and public health officials change in response to COVID-19.

View The FAQ

Thank you to the more than 4,600 parents and guardians who responded to the latest Return To School survey. Your responses are crucial to helping the district craft options to accommodate the needs of students going into the fall.


June 29, 2020

District leaders continue to review how schools may open this fall for in-person instruction so students can better connect with their teachers and build relationships. District leaders also want to be prepared in case community health conditions limit how often and how many students may be in schools at any one time.

The latest Return To School survey asks families to assess their interest in some of the options being developed and what more they need to know to make decisions for their children’s education this fall. The survey will be open through Monday, July 6 at noon.

Take The Survey


June 24, 2020

The first draft of the district's Return To School Plan is here. While some decisions still need to be made, this document outlines the work that will take place this summer so students and staff can be successful and safe during the 2020-21 school year.

View Our Return To School Plan

So what are the next steps?

  • District leaders are gauging interest from our families in enrolling their children in either the parent-directed educational program at Three Rivers HomeLink or a new teacher-directed online educational program being developed in partnership with Spokane Public Schools’ Virtual Learning program. Look for a survey on these options in the coming days.
     
  • State health and education officials have indicated we will most likely only be able to offer part-time in-person instruction if schools are allowed to open in the fall. District and school leaders will begin looking at how school schedules can be designed that provide students meaningful instruction and opportunities to build relationships while being responsive to the needs of families. A recommendation on a school schedule will be presented to the Richland School Board in a public meeting on July 28.
     
  • Staff are continuing to strengthen resources for student health and wellness, while developing procedures and protocols to meet public health requirements for staff and students when schools reopen.
     
  • Staff will begin reviewing the recently released return-to-play guidance from Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and determining when and how student activities and athletics may resume.

June 22, 2020

OSPI has released a draft version of its additional guidance as well as a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) for reopening schools and serving students who receive special education services. State education leaders are seeking feedback on the draft which can be sent to speced@k12.wa.us by noon Monday, July 6, 2020. 

View State Draft Guidance For Special Education

View FAQ On Special Education Draft Guidance

Recordings and notes from the district's town hall meetings seeking input on reopening schools are also available. Please note that due to a technical error, there is no recording available of the town hall meeting on Online Learning.

Elementary Town Hall

Recording

Notes

Online Learning Town Hall

Notes

Secondary Town Hall

Recording

Notes

Safety Town Hall

Recording

Notes

Special Education Town Hall

Recording

Notes


June 13, 2020

The Richland School Board will have a series of virtual town hall meetings beginning June 16 for community members to provide live input on elements of the district's Return To School Planning efforts.

All meetings will be conducted through the web-based Zoom video-conferencing platform and will be roughly one hour long. A board member will lead each meeting along with a district administrator on a specific element of our schools.  They will seek community feedback on lessons learned from our sudden entry into at-home learning in the spring of 2020; key student, staff and family needs and considerations that need to be included in our planning.

No decisions will be made during these meetings nor will board members or administrators discuss matters outside district control, such as public health requirements or direction from OSPI. Each meeting will be recorded and notes will be taken by district staff.

We want to hear from as many community members as possible during each meeting. Here’s how we will aim to accomplish that:

  • Community members making comments should keep them as brief as possible, with a limit of 1:30.
  • Any prepared statements/comments should be emailed to BoardFeedback@rsd.edu
  • After making comments, a community member must wait until all others wishing to make comments have done so before being called on again.
  • Board members and administrators will answer questions concisely during the meeting, with follow up as necessary to the community member at a later time if they provide contact information.

Meeting Schedule & Topics

Tuesday, June 16

Wednesday, June 17

Thursday, June 18


June 12, 2020

The Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) released its guidance for reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year late in the morning on June 11. The document includes health and safety requirements, rules and guidelines drafted in collaboration with the state Department of Health (DOH) and the Governor’s office.

District leaders are reviewing the document as work continues in developing potential options for reopening schools. While face-to-face learning is the goal, OSPI has indicated that districts should be prepared for limited face-to-face learning by using some form of the following models:

  • Split or rotating schedules with distance learning,
  • Phased-in opening with at-home learning, and
  • At-home learning 2.0, a more effective remote learning system.

OSPI’s latest guidance also noted that all districts reopening schools must implement specific measures, such as requiring all those in schools—students, staff, parents and other visitors—to wear masks. The district will incorporate these requirements into its planning.

District leaders will continue to work in partnership with and inform students, staff, and families in reopening efforts. The Richland School Board is planning virtual town hall meetings to gather more input from the community as the district moves toward welcoming students back in the fall.

The district will also work with Benton-Franklin Health District and be mindful that we could face tighter restrictions than other districts if Benton County is still in Phase 1 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start Plan in the fall.


June 10, 2020

Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent parent survey. Interested in seeing the results?

View Survey Results

We are working on further opportunities for community members to give input, such as through a virtual town hall meeting, and will share details about that event soon.


June 5, 2020

Since announcing the district's Return To School Planning efforts on June 1, here is the latest information on the ongoing work to reopen schools in the fall.

  • Our parent survey on reopening scenarios and other questions has received more than 5,000 responses to date. These responses, combined with those to prior surveys regarding At-Home Learning, are providing valuable insight on how best to serve students and families going forward. The district is planning further opportunities for the community to share and engage in planning efforts.
     

  • While it remains unclear what guidance and restrictions from state leaders and public health agencies will be in place when school resumes in the fall, schools will almost certainly be impacted across the full spectrum of operations, from student instruction and transportation to nutrition services and co-curricular activities. District leaders have seen and appreciate the comments from community members calling for school to resume normally in the fall. It is crucial the district is prepared for the most restrictive scenarios.
     

  • Decisions regarding reopening schools will be guided by the values reflected in the district's Strategic Goal. This includes seeing to the health and safety of students and staff, ensuring each student has equitable access to opportunities and working together with our whole community so our children have the resources and encouragement to reach their potential.
     
  • The district is considering six operating scenarios in its initial planning efforts for reopening schools:
     
    • Normal Operations - Students attend school and other student activities as they would in a typical school year with additional cleaning and protective measures.
    • Alternating Days - Students attending for full days of learning at school alternating with full days of learning at home.
    • Half Days - Students attending for half days at-school and then learning at home half-days.
    • Divide Subjects - Some specific subjects offered at-school and other subjects offered at home.
    • Divide Grades - K-3 students attend classes at school while older students in grades 4-12 learn from home.
    • Full-Time Distance Learning - All students participate in instruction at home through distance learning full-time in case school buildings remain closed or are closed after the school year begins.
       
  • Most of these scenarios pose a significant change to the school day and require collaboration between various employee groups, administrators, students and families. Teams of teachers, administrators and community members are studying survey input and other feedback from families and staff as they develop potential solutions and proposals for reopening schools and serving students.
     
  • The district's goal is to have a plan for the fall completed by June 30, with a preliminary version of this plan presented to the Richland School Board and available to the public before that date. The district will notify the community as it moves toward finalizing that plan and preparing to welcome students back.