Ailina Cunningham, Staff Writer
For students with families who live locally, it’s important to understand how schools are attempting to open back up amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and how they plan to handle the delicate balance of Education vs. Public Safety. Locally, the Thurston County school districts are opening up as we inch closer and closer to COVID-19 free schooling. This of course is not a perfect system as several schools have opted for hybrid and online classes. This is a compromise the school districts are using in order to keep the school going while also being aware of social distancing protocol and safety protocol for students and teachers. The Thurston County School District website even states that in order to get back to school, students and staff are both encouraged to take a COVID-19 test to ensure the safety, health and wellness of each person. On their website, it says “participants are encouraged to pre-register online before arriving at the testing site. Parents/guardians who pre-register their student online will also be asked to fill out a permission slip that allows test results to be shared with their student’s school district.” This is regarding a testing site that has been set up for the Thurston County School District to get tested that is located conveniently at 6005 Tyee Dr. S.W. in Tumwater.
Currently, the plan for implementing public safety within the school district is to enact hybrid learning that allows students to opt for virtual or in-person learning as needed. Different grades are given different times that their hybrid learning styles are going to be implemented, including as early as March 15 for 6th graders. This however does not mean that masks will be excluded from the educational plan as students are still encouraged to wear a mask and promote public safety for their fellow students. The hybrid learning is the fifth part of a six-part education reopening plan which allows students to get back to pre-k COVID-19 school learning. The first two parts of the reopening plan include remaining at home and full remote learning. Steps three through five include gradual hybrid learning with an emphasis on in-person learning with each step. Currently, in Stage five, it is a requirement that in-person learning takes place at least two times a week out of the five days that school is in session with three of those days being an optional online class. Currently, much like Saint Martin’s students who are using online classes to complete their degree, students of Elementary and High School are using Google Classroom and Canvas in order to get their assignments completed and meet virtually through Zoom calls. Luckily in this age of technology, it becomes easier to adapt to learning environments such as virtual classrooms that allow people to proceed with their education no matter where they are. Even as schools open up and learning becomes more in person, maintaining the ability to have hybrid classes could be beneficial in the future and a valuable model for teachers to use to reach students everywhere.