Return To School Planning Updates
April 15, 2021
Our district moves into Stage 4 of the Return To School plan on Monday, April 19. To assist students, families and staff with knowing what will stay the same and what is changing in this next chapter of a unique school year, district and school staff have compiled details in the Stage 4 Implementation, Guidance and Supporting Documents guide.
Some highlights of the primary updates made for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year:
- Details about school schedules, including an 11 a.m. early dismissal on Fridays for all middle and high schools through the end of the school year
- Continuation of the option for middle and high school students and staff working remotely to Zoom into classrooms during in-person learning.
- How families with students learning remotely can continue to access free weekly meal packets from May 1 through the end of the school year.
- How schools will adapt teaching and support for students receiving special education services
- Information about how families can check updated school bus schedules
- General overviews of how elementary schools will manage meals and recess
- How elementary students will have access to in-person learning for specials such as music, art, physical education and library
- The district’s intent to continue providing and supporting COVID-19 vaccination opportunities for students and staff
More specific information regarding operations for individual schools is already being shared with staff and the community and more will be made available in the coming days.
Many of the measures, precautions and options adopted this school year will remain in place in this next stage because health experts and officials indicate we need to remain on guard against COVID-19. We also have students and staff who wish to continue working remotely out of concerns for their own health or that of their family.
This time is also an opportunity for most of our students to receive daily in-person instruction, engage in more of the activities that make our schools so great and get closer to what school was like before COVID-19. This will set up our schools for greater success in the coming 2021-22 school year, when our schools will hopefully return to normal operations.
The district thanks everyone—students, staff, families and the entire community—for the patience and grace extended this school year.
April 13, 2021
To our RSD Community,
The 2020-21 school year has been one of unprecedented challenges in educating our youth while also helping protect the community from COVID-19. We deeply appreciate our school and district staff who have worked to overcome these challenges as well as all of you for supporting them for the work they do.
On Monday, April 19, our district enters the next stage of our Return to School Plan, with most students returning for daily in-person instruction in our schools. While this will be the closest we’ve been to how we traditionally run our schools since the COVID-19 pandemic began more than a year ago, our school operations and instruction will continue to be affected by the public health requirements and precautions necessary to protect our community. This means that a family that wants to continue to have their student Zoom into lessons, they will continue to do so. It also means staff who have been working remotely will continue to have that option.
District staff will communicate the full plan for Stage 4 this week. The Board is hopeful that schools will be able to resume normal operations at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.
While some elements of our school operations will be different compared to previous stages of Return To School, our schools will continue to provide the flexibility we have offered to students, families and staff throughout this school year in how they connect, engage and learn.
The Board appreciates that continuing to provide this flexibility means that staff need support. Under Board direction, accommodations for staff have been offered and provided so they can support all students and take care of themselves and their families for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. However, there is no scenario that would be approved by the Board that would exclude student access to learning.
Your Richland School Board
March 23, 2021
We have important news about building our road back to school.
During its March 23 meeting, the Richland School Board set Monday, April 19 as the first day for students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 to return to full-time in-person instruction. Wednesday, April 14 through Friday, April 16 will be asynchronous learning days for all students to allow school staff to modify classrooms, amend lesson plans and make other preparations.
The district’s move to full-time in-person learning is contingent upon Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Department of Health providing the legal flexibility for school districts to further reopen as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The district also intends to continue for the remainder of the current school year offering remote learning options through Continued Distance Learning (CDL) at the elementary level, the ability for middle and high school students to attend their classes remotely at their schools as well as Richland Virtual School.
District and school leaders are working through the challenges of bringing more students back into schools while being mindful of precautions needed as COVID-19 continues to impact our community. Please stay tuned for more information as we move toward this next big step.
March 19, 2021
District staff are reviewing the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in schools, including the updated information regarding physical distancing between students.
We are eager to see more students in classrooms engaging with each other and school staff. We also remain committed to ensuring in-person learning is done safely for all and providing families and students not yet ready to return to schools the option to continue learning remotely.
Tentative plans on how to bring more students back into schools for in-person learning have been in development and will be discussed by the Richland School Board at its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 23.
Jan. 12, 2021
We have an important update on efforts to bring RSD secondary students back into schools for in-person learning.
The Richland School Board approved a timeline during its Jan. 12 regular meeting that will begin the transition to in-person learning for middle and high school students at the beginning of the second semester in late January. This timeline was reviewed by local public health officials to ensure it met their recommendations in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in our community and includes finalized class schedules, school operations and safety procedures and protocols developed by school and district leaders in partnership with school staffs.
First Days For In-Person Learning
- Middle & High Schools
- Grade 6 – Wednesday, Jan. 27 (Group A) & Thursday, Jan. 28 (Group B)
- Grades 7-8 – Monday, Feb. 1 (Group A) & Tuesday, Feb. 2 (Group B)
- Grade 9 – Wednesday, Feb. 17 (Group A) & Thursday, Feb. 18 (Group B)
- Grades 10-12 – Monday, Feb. 22 (Group A) & Tuesday, Feb. 23 (Group B)
- Choice Programs
- River’s Edge High School – Thursday, Jan. 28 (All students, five-day schedule)
- Three River’s HomeLink – Tuesday, Jan. 26 (Grades 6-12) & Monday, Feb. 1 (Grades K-5)
- Delta High School – Determined by Pasco School District
- Tri-Tech Skills Center – Determined by Kennewick School District
As part of this move to in-person learning, middle and high schools will use a new full day A/B schedule**, with half of each school’s students attending in-person Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students will have asynchronous learning on school days when not learning in-person. All students will have asynchronous learning on Fridays. Students who choose remote learning will be assigned to either the A or B groups in order to participate remotely in direct instruction on their assigned days. Students learning in-person will receive lunch while at school.
The A/B schedule takes effect for middle school students on Wednesday, Jan. 27 and for high school students on Wednesday, Feb. 17. High school students will use a temporary full-day Remote Schedule from Tuesday, Jan. 26 to Friday, Feb. 12 before they begin their return to in-person learning.
Our established COVID-19 protocols and procedures will allow us to open middle and high schools safely and in alignment with public health requirements and recommendations. Our custodial team is well-trained and well-equipped to clean and sanitize our schools every day. Dade Moeller/NV5, the district’s health and safety consultant, continues to review and advise on our efforts to bring more students back for in-person learning.
School-specific information on the return to in-person learning, such as how students and families can learn which group they are assigned to, will be sent to families in the time before students are back in classrooms. Families should complete the survey sent by schools to indicate whether their child will return for in-person learning if they have not yet done so.
*PreK-12 students enrolled in self-contained special education programs will use the recently implemented four-day in-person instructional model that begins Tuesday, Jan. 26.
**River’s Edge High School will use a five-day in-person learning schedule.
To our RSD Special Education Families,
We want to share an update on changes coming to schedules for students receiving services in our self-contained programs (ERR, BESST, Structured & LifeSkills).
Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 26, the scheduled day for these programs will extend to that of a typical school day Mondays through Thursdays.
- Elementary: 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
- Middle & High School: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.*
*Secondary schedules may vary by site. Please check your school’s website or with a school administrator for specific start times.
All students in these programs will have asynchronous learning on Fridays.
While these schedule changes expand the availability of these programs and their services each school day, individual student schedules may still vary from this model as determined by each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. IEP teams will also continue to determine the type of services each student receives along with how long/frequently they receive those services and the start/end time for each school day.
If you have any questions about these changes, please reach out to your child’s teacher or IEP team.
Dec. 8, 2020
The Richland School Board decided at its Dec. 8 meeting to have fourth- and fifth-grade students return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 11. This return is contingent upon Benton-Franklin Health District continuing to support in-person learning for elementary students and any direction from state level agencies or from Gov. Jay Inslee in response to COVID-19 activity.
Schools will reach out to fourth- and fifth-grade families to ensure they have the information they need to return to in-person learning in the half-day hybrid learning model. This includes daily schedules, weekly health attestations and requirements for face coverings and physical distancing.
All RSD staff are determined to keep our students safe and help protect our community. We ask everyone to continue following COVID-19 precautions, such as avoiding gatherings, wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently and staying home with ill. Doing so will help reduce the risks posed by COVID-19, ensure fourth- and fifth-graders and all our students return to in-person learning and stay in classrooms where staff can best teach and support them.
Nov. 25, 2020
To our RSD community,
I am reaching out to share with you that during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24 the Richland School Board decided to return students in fourth and fifth grades to distance learning beginning Monday, Nov. 30 in response to challenges in opening our elementary schools for in-person learning.
Fourth- and fifth-graders who were attending in-person learning will shift back to our Continuous Learning 2.0 model with their classmates. Families that moved their child in those grades to Continued Distance Learning (CDL) and have been assigned a new teacher will remain in those new classroom assignments.
Other in-person activities in our schools will continue, including:
- In-person learning for students in kindergarten through third grade, students at the Early Learning Center and in designated special education programs
- In-person tutoring for fourth- and fifth-grade students who are most in need of support until those grades return to in-person learning
- In-person support for middle and high school students struggling with distance learning
- Student activities permitted by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) and current public health requirements and guidelines will continue
Additionally, the Board has approved a plan for middle and high schools to be ready for students to begin in-person learning as early as Jan. 24 when the second semester begins if community circumstances with COVID-19 allow.
All of us—myself, the Board and our staff—are disappointed in this setback to our Return To School efforts. We, along with our students and families, want the same thing—our students back in the classroom with friends, teachers and support staff where they can fully engage and connect with their learning. However, we must be sure we can provide in-person learning safely and effectively. We knew this school year would be challenging as COVID-19 continues to move through our community but that doesn’t make this any easier.
It is understandable that your student may be sad, angry, depressed or anxious at these events. I have included some resources from our teams of school psychologists and counselors to help parents and guardians navigate these conversations and help their children cope.
- How To Ask What Kids Are Feeling
- Teenagers & Reopening
- Anxiety: Helping Handout For School & Home (PDF)
- Depression: Helping Handout For School & Home (PDF)
It will take all of us working together to support all of our students in this current moment and move toward bringing them back into our schools. This includes masking up, maintaining physical distance, avoiding gatherings outside your household, staying home when ill and frequently washing hands. I am confident that our community can rise to this challenge as it has so many times before. I encourage students and families to reach out to their schools for additional support.
Thank you for your partnership, patience and understanding.
Dr. Shelley Redinger
Nov. 18, 2020
To our RSD families,
Benton-Franklin Health District has issued updated guidance regarding in-person learning in middle and high schools in light of increasing transmission of COVID-19 in our community.
“Given the rapid increase of disease burden in our communities, at this time, I must amend my recommendation to Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick school districts to pause the phased return for middle and high school students,” Health Officer Dr. Amy Person wrote. "...the current rate of disease activity among 10 – 19 year olds...is 3.9 times higher than the disease rate for the elementary school age children when they returned to school in-person in mid-October."
Dr. Person has indicated that most other in-person activities currently occurring in schools may continue with appropriate safeguards and precautions. In RSD, that includes:
- On-site Services provided through designated special education programs
- Hybrid learning for students at the Early Learning Center (ELC) and in kindergarten through Grade 5
- Targeted in-person support for middle and high school students
- Outdoors athletic training and practices
The Richland School Board will discuss this new guidance at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 24. District and school leaders are continuing to work on in-person learning plans for middle and high school students so they can return to classrooms once the Board makes that decision.
Oct. 29, 2020
The district continues to work toward bringing students back into schools for in-person learning. Here are some of the latest developments on those efforts.
- NV5/Dade Moeller, the district’s health and safety consultant, has determined that our elementary schools are prepared to welcome students back for in-person learning.
The company reviewed the district’s written plans, protocols and procedures in response to COVID-19 and also conducted walkthroughs of schools. Those walkthroughs verified availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), measures taken to provide physical distancing in various school settings and efforts to meet public health requirements and best educational practices.
The company will continue to help the district monitor the implementation of COVID-19 precautions and measures as students return to classrooms and will assist with similar reviews for middle and high schools.
- District leaders along with middle and high school administrators are finalizing plans to bring small groups of secondary students needing additional supports into schools to work with staff. Schools will be reaching out those students and their families about schedules, transportation and other details.
- The Richland School Board has directed administrators to bring back plans and options for in-person learning in middle and high schools at the Nov. 10 regular Board meeting. These plans and options will be built upon work done this past summer and early this fall to put students into two groups to accommodate an A/B schedule.
Oct. 20, 2020
To our elementary families,
We want to update you on our plan to begin bringing your children into schools for in-person learning as part of Stage 3 of our Return To School.
District leaders are shifting the target dates for pre-K and elementary students to return to school. The new target dates for pre-K and elementary are as follow:
- DD Preschool (ELC) and kindergartners: Wednesday, Oct. 28
- ECEAP Preschool (ELC) and Grades 1-2: Wednesday, Nov. 4
- Grades 3-5: Thursday, Nov. 12
Students already participating in in-person learning alongside special education services in schools as part of Stage 2 of our Return To School will continue to do so.
This delay in implementing Stage 3 will help the district be sure that newly implemented systems and newly developed protocols and procedures in response to COVID-19 are working as intended. It also will give schools time to address any issues found as part of walkthroughs being conducted by the district’s health and safety consultant NV5/Dade Moeller, ensure staff are properly trained and accommodate students not ready to return to in-person learning and choosing to continue learning remotely.
District leaders understand the challenge and frustration this delay will cause our families. They along with school staff members want to see students and are working hard to be ready to welcome them into schools. Our goal is to make this return to classrooms successful and as stress-free for students, families and school staff alike. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we move forward.
Oct. 14, 2020
To our RSD families,
The Richland School Board has made several important decisions to begin bringing more of our students back into our schools for in-person learning:
- Adoption of learning schedules for students when they resume in-person learning in Stage 3 of our Return To School:
- Elementary: A.M./P.M. model (half of the students attend in the morning and half in the afternoon).
- Middle & high school: A/B model (students divided into two groups and attend on alternate days for two days of in-person learning per week. Friday will be a remote learning day for all students and planning day for staff).
- Delta High/Tri-Tech Skills Center: bus transportation will be available for students in those programs when the Pasco and Kennewick school districts resume in-person learning respectively.
- Setting target dates for elementary students to return to in-person learning in our schools:
- DD Preschool and Kindergarten: Monday, Oct. 26
- ECEAP Preschool and Grades 1-2: Monday, Nov. 2
- Grades 3-5: Monday, Nov. 9
- Clearing high school students to begin participating in athletic training, conditioning and practice activities in alignment with restrictions and requirements set by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the Washington Department of Health (DOH) and Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD)
Our elementary families will receive further information from the district and their child’s school in the coming days to help prepare for in-person instruction. This will include school and bus schedules; details about daily health attestation, face covering and physical distancing requirements, how we’ll handle potential COVID-19 activity in schools and how we will serve students and families not yet ready to resume in-person learning. High school athletic programs will begin reaching out to their student-athletes about the plan for athletic activities.
While we are eager to see and engage students in person, we understand some have concerns bringing students back into schools as our community continues to be impacted by COVID-19. We want to assure you that the safety of students and staff is our priority.
Our protocols and procedures will allow us to open school buildings safely and in alignment with public health requirements and recommendations. We have ordered personal protective equipment to meet the needs of each school. Our custodial team is well-trained and well-equipped to clean and sanitize our schools every day. And the district has hired Dade Moeller/NV5, an international health and safety consultant that has worked extensively with contractors on the Hanford site, to review our plan and help us make it the best it can be.
Please continue to watch for more information and check our Return To School updates page as we move forward.
Dr. Shelley Redinger
Oct. 9, 2020
Your input is important as Richland School District works toward finalizing the plan for bringing students back into schools in Stage 3 of Return To School. Please take a few minutes to answer some questions on your thoughts of the benefits and challenges of the proposed in-person learning models, the protocols and procedures being implemented to limit the risks from COVID-19 and more.
Want to review the brief presentation of the draft plan by district administrators or the draft document?
Oct. 2, 2020
RSD continues to work toward safely bringing students back into classrooms for some in-person learning where they can best learn and engage with staff and classmates. The Richland School Board has begun reviewing a draft plan for Stage 3 of our Return To School that incorporates everything from athletics to school schedules as well as the response to COVID-19 cases in schools.
District leaders will host brief informational meetings for the community via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8 to go over the draft plan and provide opportunities for feedback.
The Board has not yet set a timeline nor selected metrics of COVID-19 activity for the return to in-person learning. Board members have requested district administrators reach out to Benton-Franklin Health District and the Washington Department of Health to clarify their guidance on when it is safe for students to return to school. The district will update the community as soon as the Board reaches a decision on the return to in-person learning.
Sept. 22, 2020
With COVID-19 cases currently declining in Benton County, the Richland School Board is directing district administrators to begin preparing to move the district further down the road back to school for in-person instruction.
The Board has scheduled a special Board workshop for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1 to review a proposed learning plan where students would be provided some in-person learning. During its regular meeting on Sept. 22, the Board discussed a target of mid-October to begin bringing elementary students back into schools for some time in classrooms, with middle and high school students tentatively resuming some in-person instruction after the end of the first quarter in early November.
In addition to developing this learning plan, district administrators will be contacting student families and staff members on their likelihood to return to schools for in-person learning. The Board also asked district leaders to propose options for those students and staff not prepared to return to in-person learning due to current COVID-19 conditions.
The workshop will be conducted via Zoom in compliance with Gov. Jay Inslee’s current order for public meetings to be held virtually in response to COVID-19. A link to the meeting will be available at www.rsd.edu.
Sept. 18, 2020
As part of the Richland School Board’s agenda for its Tuesday, Sept. 22 meeting, there will be discussion of scheduling a special meeting focused on how schools will operate once in-person instruction resumes. Topics of this meeting could include daily student schedules, public health requirements and protocols and a target date for when to bring students back into classrooms. Details about when and how the public may attend that meeting will be shared as soon as the Board determines them.
In anticipation of this special meeting, the Board is not expected to make any decisions regarding when most students will return for some in-person instruction at the Sept. 22 meeting. Board members will receive an update on COVID-19 in the community and the latest information from public health officials.
As we prepare to bring your students back into our schools for in-person learning and services, we want to share a guide to help you and your child get ready to visit schools. Our Stage 2 Implementation, Guidance & Supporting Documents guide provides details on schedules, how student meals will be provided and how we will be ensuring students and staff can stay safe while learning and working in classrooms.
We ask you to please review this document and others such as RSD’s Continuous Learning 2.0 Plan so you are familiar with how we are moving forward. If you have any questions, please reach out to your case manager or IEP team.
We are so excited to see your students and continue providing them the support they need to be successful.
Sept. 17, 2020
A Message From The Richland School Board
We want to thank everyone for the phone calls, emails and feedback shared with board members following Benton-Franklin Health District’s updated guidance that students might return for some in-person learning as early as Oct. 1 if rates of COVID continue to decline in our community. Each of you is thinking of what is best for your children and our community and we deeply appreciate your advocacy.
Some of you are excited at the news our community’s efforts in response to COVID-19 are working and that brings us closer to students being back in our schools and classrooms. Others are encouraged but are wary of moving too quickly and undoing all that hard work that could put students, school staff and the community at large at risk.
Our schools are already working to bring back some students with disabilities for some in-person interactions so they can receive the special education services they need that cannot be provided virtually. We are eager to see more students back in our schools, engaging with teachers and classmates face-to-face. We also intend any return to in-person learning to be done safely and thoughtfully, with proper procedures and protocols aligned with public health requirements and recommendations. We want to bring students back and we want to do it right.
The Board will receive an update on COVID-19 in our community during its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The meeting will be broadcast via Zoom and we invite you to tune in.
- Your Richland School Board
Sept. 14, 2020
Benton-Franklin Health District today updated its guidance for schools in Benton County based on preliminary data on COVID-19 case rates. This announcement indicated that most students might return to schools in Benton County for some in-person learning as early as Oct. 1.
The Richland School Board has reviewed the community circumstances regarding COVID-19 at each regular board meeting since determining in late July to begin the school year online. The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 22. This meeting will be conducted via Zoom and the public is welcome to attend. A link to that meeting will be posted at www.rsd.edu.
The district will share news of any change to the current online learning format as soon as the Board makes that determination.
Sept. 9, 2020
To all our RSD families,
Thank you for your patience, grace and positivity with our online start to the 2020-21 school year. It is always challenging to do something new and I am humbled by the work being done by our staff, students and families to make this a great year for learning.
While COVID-19 continues to affect our communities, the Richland School Board has determined it is time to begin the transition to in-person learning for some of our students, particularly those unable to receive the special services they need to fully access their education. Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 16, students receiving specific services and supports will return to schools for in-person learning on a part-time basis. Learn More About Our Move To Stage 2 Of Our Return To School.
The Board did not make this decision lightly and it came after careful consideration of the needs of students as well as of the precautions needed to protect students, staff and our communities. We now have a busy couple days ahead of working with our staff to help them prepare for this transition and to reach out to the families of the students who will be returning so they know what to expect.
I am confident we can take this step safely, meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable students and establish the model by which we can ultimately bring all our students back into our buildings where we can best serve them.
Dr. Shelley Redinger