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RETURN TO SCHOOL – PLANNING FOR FALL 2020

Welcome to Kalama School District’s return to school resource page!

A gradual transition from the current home-based remote learning program to one that features small group in-person instruction for grades 2-12 and expanded four-days-a-week in-person instruction for kindergarteners and first graders began on Monday, October 19.

Please note that as our schools ramp up small group rotations for in-person instruction, it will take some time before all groups at all grade levels have had the opportunity to be rotated in. For groups at the secondary level (grades 6-12), in-person rotations will continue to increase through October and November. 

Rest assured, our dedicated staff is working hard to schedule all rotations in a safe and timely manner. Families will be informed of their student’s small group schedule via a direct communication from their school and/or teacher.


METRICS FOR DECISION-MAKING

With the health and safety of students and families in mind, public health officials and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) developed a framework to help school districts across the state determine how and when to resume learning this fall. The following information is based on that framework:

As of Monday, October 12, Cowlitz County Public Health reports that there were 5newly diagnosed cases per 100,000 people over 14 days, indicating that the county is firmly in the MODERATE COVID-19 activity level category. At this level, health officials recommend distance learning with limited in-person instruction. 

The following chart from Cowlitz County Public Health illustrates activity levels over time:


HOME-BASED REMOTE INSTRUCTION

Families have the option to enroll their student(s) in a home-based remote learning program that is offered all year long. Students in this program will work with our teachers using the same curriculum as their peers on the modified in-person track. Scheduled in-person office hours will also be available to support these students.

Students who sign up for the home-based remote learning program are expected to commit to it for no less than the end of the current semester (ends January 22, 2021).


from SMALL GROUPs to A/B hybrid

Over the coming weeks, our schools will utilize small group in-person learning for grades 2-12 as we slowly transition to a traditional A/B hybrid learning model, which features larger groups and more in-person time. Rather than set specific dates for these transitions to take place, our process will be an incremental one, naturally evolving and growing over time.

Unlike the A/B model, the benefit of establishing small groups first is that small group learning can take place even when/if the county is in the high COVID activity level. 

Based on the county's current MODERATE activity level, the next group of students eligible to make the transition from small group to A/B hybrid is grades 2-5. 


DAILY HEALTH SCREENING/ATTESTATION

Per state guidelines, each day that students attend in-person classes on campus, parents and guardians must attest that their student(s) is free of COVID-19 symptoms prior to boarding a school bus or entering a school building.

To simplify the attestation process, so that families don’t have to submit health attestation forms every time their student has in-person learning, we’ve created an electronic Daily Health Screen Agreement Form. By completing this form, parents/guardians are able to agree in advance to conducting part of this daily COVID-19 screening, and to keep their student(s) at home if they have any symptoms. Families that choose NOT TO complete this form will be required to submit a written attestation of health form every day their student is on campus.

We encourage families to fill out and submit the electronic form as soon as possible and prior to your student arriving on campus for in-person learning.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Will students be required to wear masks on campus?

Yes. When on campus, all students will be required to wear masks and the school will adhere to cleaning and social distancing requirements as outlined by the Washington State Department of Health.

Will students get a mask break during the day?

Yes, students will be provided with several mask breaks during the day. We’ll have more details to share on that in future email communications to families.

Will school buses be operating when in-person learning starts?

Yes, bus transportation will be available. More information, such as schedules and health protocols, will be provided by the district in the coming weeks.

Why will younger students return to school for in-person learning sooner than older students?

There is still a lot we do not know about transmission of COVID-19 from children, but a recent CDC study suggested young children (<10 years old) may be less likely to spread the infection than older children (10-19 years old). It is still very important for schools to ensure safety measures such as physical distancing, use of face coverings, hand-washing and small cohorts among these students.

What about students with an IEP?

The district is currently providing on-campus, in-person support to small groups of students with specific learning needs.

Is it true that the district is running a home school program this year?

No, this is not the case. The district’s home-based remote program is not the same as traditional “home school,” which is instruction provided by a parent. The district’s home-based remote program is supported by Kalama School District staff and resources. Parents are not expected to provide the instruction for any of our K-12 courses. 

Can my student opt in or opt out of home-based program during the year?

Yes. Students will not be locked in or locked out of the home-based online learning program during the school year. However, students will need to wait until the conclusion of the semester to make a change. In-person program availability will be based on capacity.

How will we know if there’s an outbreak at a school?

Local health jurisdictions are responsible for school follow-up and outbreak investigations and will notify close contacts of confirmed cases. Our district will inform staff and families of students if/when there is an outbreak of COVID-19. The identity of students with confirmed cases will be kept anonymous.

We will continue to update this page with additional questions and answers as often as possible. If you have immediate questions, please contact your student's school or the district office. We are here to support you and your student in this transition.


RESOURCES

Kalama Elementary School Fall Planning web page

Kalama Middle School Fall Planning web page

Kalama High School Fall Planning web page

Illustration: School opening decision framework

Stages of Reopening graphic

KSD COVID Safety Plan 2020-2021

Spanish: Video overview of Canvas platform

Reopening Letter From the Superintendent (August 12)

Spanish: Reopening Letter From the Superintendent (August 12)

Cowlitz County Public Health: COVID-19 Reports and Presentations

Cowlitz COVID-19 Incident Management Team: Cowlitz County Considerations for School Re-Opening In Light of COVID-19 (August 7, 2020)

Dept. of Health: Decision Tree for Provision of In Person Learning Among K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic (August 5, 2020)

Dept. of Health: K-12 Schools – Fall 2020-2021 Guidance (August 4, 2020)

Cowlitz County Health & Human Services: Letter to Cowlitz Superintendents (July 31, 2020)

News: Area Districts Coordinate to Develop Reopening Plans (July 31, 2020)