What will schools look like in the fall?

By Rachel Davis

The Edmonds School District (ESD) cabinet members recently held a Zoom webinar to address the district’s plans for re-opening schools in September amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas, along with various cabinet members, presented the board with plans for reopening schools in the fall. 

Executive Director of Student Learning Robert Baumgartner and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Dana Geaslen presented three possible options for hybrid schedules. Baumgartner and Geaslen also emphasized the importance of remote learning 2.0, an improved plan that would focus on full remote learning in the event that it is unsafe to attend school in-person . 

“We know there are issues and we know there are gaps, what happened in spring has caused our marginalized students to become even more marginalized and we want to fill those gaps so it can work at its best in the fall,” Dr. Balderas said.

All three presented options divided students in grades K-12 into 2 cohorts; A and B. In the first model (AA/BB), cohort A of students would attend school for in-person learning Monday and Tuesday, while cohort B receives instruction from their homes. On Wednesdays, both groups would stay at home. 

“The focus of Wednesdays is for deep cleaning of the building, reaching out to students who may need special help and support for intervention services,” Geaslen said. 

On Thursday and Friday, group B would attend school for in-person learning, while group A would learn from home. 

In the second model (AB/AB), cohort A and B alternate for in-person learning, with cohort A on Monday and Thursday, cohort B on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday, like the first model, would provide teachers the opportunity to reach out to students, while also serving as a day to deep clean the building. 

The final model incorporates elements of both of the first two hybrid models. The third model ensures that students in grades K-1, those experiencing homelessness, English learners and self-contained special education would attend school in-person more frequently. 

In the coming months, the Edmonds School District will continue to work on the plan that fits best with the staff and students needs. Various task groups have been assigned to specific aspects of the project. The ESD plans to establish a system around one specific model by July 24. They are proposing to use the month of August to bargain based on the impacts of the chosen model. 

Dr. Balderas aims to meet with the board every couple of weeks to provide an update about the progress on the plan. He hopes to involve the community as much as possible.

“It’s a tight timeline. There are lots of people working really hard and I don’t see this work stopping once we have the model determined,” Dr. Balderas said. “I want to make sure that our community is heard and supported throughout this process.”