Frequently Asked Questions About The Return Of Secondary Students To In-Person Learning

Frequently Asked Questions About The Return Of Secondary Students To In-Person Learning

Do you have a middle or high school student and are still wondering how you can learn whether they are in Group A or Group B for in-person learning? Curious about how we'll enforce COVID-19 public safety precautions? Check out answers to those questions and more.


Why is the district bringing more students back to in-person learning even as local COVID-19 activity exceeds the standards set by the state Department of Health?

Benton-Franklin Health District has cleared school districts in the Tri-Cities to begin bringing middle school students and then high school students back for in-person learning beginning Jan. 25 so long as all COVID-19 precautions are in place. The health district has not found any indication since elementary schools began serving students in-person this fall that schools following those precautions are spreading the novel coronavirus.

The state Department of Health’s metrics are a recommendation for school and public health districts to consider when assessing the feasibility of in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. State public health officials as well as state Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Gov. Jay Inslee have also stressed the importance of students receiving some in-person learning to help address socio-emotional and socio-economic obstacles created by the state’s pandemic response.

Are teachers or students required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available?

RSD staff will not be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19. The district is working to help staff take advantage of vaccination opportunities. The current COVID-19 vaccines are currently not available for individuals under the age of 16. The state sets student immunization requirements and there is no indication that a COVID-19 vaccination will be required at this time.

Do all secondary students have to participate in in-person learning? Can they also stay in a remote learning model?

Middle and high school students may continue to learn in a fully remote model. This is available as two options:

- Remote learning through their current school: Middle and high schools will offer students learning remotely the ability to participate in class instruction through Zoom. Remote students may transition to in-person learning later in the school year if they choose.

- Richland Virtual School: Middle and high school students may transfer to the fully online and teacher-directed Richland Virtual School. Students enrolled in this program will remain in a fully remote learning model through the remainder of the school year.

How do students and families learn whether they are in Group A or Group B?

Each student’s assignment to either Group A or B is available through PowerSchool. After logging into PowerSchool, look for an “A” or “B” listed next to a child’s name along with their school, grade level and student ID number.

How do students and families complete the daily health attestation?

Three Rivers HomeLink students will use a Google Form-based weekly health attestation process. HomeLink staff will provide information to students and their families on that process.

Students enrolled at middle schools and Hanford, Richland and River’s Edge high schools will use the Qualtrics attestation system.

Notifications containing a link to the attestation will be sent out between 6 and 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and must be completed by midnight. These notifications will be initially sent to a parent's email with the option to send them to a parent's or student's cellphone. Middle school parents will receive the first notification via email on Monday, Jan. 25, two days before Grade 6 students begin returning for in-person learning. This is aimed at helping families and students test the system before returning to schools. Families should contact their child's school's office if they do not receive a notification.

The attestation will ask how students are feeling and whether they’ve had exposure to the novel coronavirus. Depending on the responses, the attestation will either give a “green checkmark” for those cleared to attend in-person learning or a “red X” for those who need to stay home.

Students must be able to produce the verification from the attestation when they arrive at school. There are two methods to provide this verification:

  • A screen shot of the verification screen on a student’s phone or from a parent's phone.
  • A digital or printed copy of the email sent to a parent's email following completion of the attestation process.

When will bus route information be available?

Bus route information is available through the district’s E-Link Portal. Students assigned to a bus route will have a bus stop, pickup time and route information available. Students who live within walking distance of their school will not have busing information listed.

Don’t yet have an E-Link account? Learn how to create an E-Link account.

Bus routes for middle school 0-hour and high schools continuing to offer in-person tutoring before in-person learning resumes can be found on our Transportation Department webpage.

How will schools enforce public health precautions for COVID-19 while students are at school?

School and district staff understand that precautions in place due to COVID-19 will make school different and require time for some students to adjust to. Staff will monitor students while they are at school and aim to gently remind students of the guidelines when there are lapses. Students who willfully choose to not follow COVID-19 precautions may be transitioned to a remote learning model in order to protect other students and staff.

What items should students bring with them to in-person learning?

Students should plan on bringing the following items to school:

  • Cloth facemask or plastic face shield
  • Backpack to carry learning materials and other items
  • Water bottle with a screw cap and labeled with their name
  • District-issued Chromebook
  • Any other items required for their classes

How will lunch at middle and high schools be conducted to ensure public health guidelines for COVID-19 are being met?

Schools have set up their lunchrooms and additional spaces such as gyms to meet the requirements of six feet of distance between students while they are seated and eating lunch. Lunches prepared by nutrition services staff will be grab-and-go to minimize crowding in lunch lines. Students will be required to stay in their seats while they are at lunch and not move around the lunchroom. Watch our video about how lunch will be served at RSD middle and high schools.

Will there be open campus during lunch periods at the high schools? If students have a free period during the school day will they be able to leave and return to campus?

Students will only be allowed to leave the high school campuses during the school day to attend Running Start Tri-Tech Skills Center classes, to participate in neighboring programming or if they have parental permission to leave for appointments.

Who will take student temperatures?

Student temperatures will be checked by staff during each student’s first hour class using a touchless thermometer.

Will students be able to use their lockers?

Lockers will not be used to eliminate the need for congregating in hallways. Students will need to keep their materials for the day in a backpack or messenger bag they take to classes while learning in-person.

Will student activities and athletics also become in-person?

Some student activities and athletics will be permitted in a limited fashion when in-person learning resumes. This includes limitations on contact between coaches and groups of student-athletes and restrictions on the number of people allowed to participate or attend athletic contests. Some activities such as most student musical rehearsals will continue to be available only in a remote format.

Students and families will receive information from their schools regarding school-specific protocols and practices. Any questions about the return to in-person learning should be directed to the school office.