In an announcement released late last week, Pateros School District Supt. Greg Goodnight said Pateros schools will be limited to online education when school resumes for the 2020-21 year — until COVID-19 infection rates subside.
The decision came from the Okanogan County Health Department under a directive by the Washington State Department of Health, which released guidelines in deciding when and how students can safely return to classroom instruction.
Goodnight’s press release said, “Pateros School District will continue to offer a choice between curriculum delivered by online providers like our Accelerate Education (Transitional K — 5th grade) and Edgenuity (grades 6-12) or curriculum delivered by a Pateros teacher. We will open under our original plan to offer in-the-schoolhouse learning as soon as Okanogan County Health Department gives us the green light.”
For online schooling, Pateros offers Accelerate Education for grades K-5, and Edgenuity for grades 6-12. All students are supplied with a Chromebook, and families without internet access are provided with a hotspot.
In his email, Goodnight said, “We are very appreciative for the kindness of our community … through generous donations and InvestEd (the school district) was able to purchase hotspots for all of the families that did not have access to the internet.” There is no out-of-pocket expense to families for either program.
High school students normally meet in person with school counselor Amy Stennes in the spring to choose fall class schedules for the following school year. But with COVID-19, those decisions were delayed.
A series of Zoom meetings scheduled by Stennes during the month August will assist students in building their school schedules. A letter was mailed to students’ homes with the details, and emails were sent to student email accounts. Information about the Zoom meetings for class schedules is posted on the Pateros School District Facebook page.
The “Decision Tree for Provision of In Person Learning among K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic” can be accessed online at http://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/DecisionTree-K12schools.pdf.
Plans in place
The school district has multiple game plans at the ready should situations change for students. Should the infection rate drop, and schools are allowed to open, the plan for in-school instruction includes everyone in the school building wearing masks or face shields.
If in-school instruction is possible, the district will provide face shields for students in transitional kindergarten through second grade. Classrooms are arranged to accommodate social distancing. Meals will be delivered to classrooms, and each grade level will have a separate playground area. Elementary students will be in cohorts with limited cross-over between grade levels. Staff and students will receive daily health screenings before boarding a bus, or entering the building.
According to the district’s reopening plan, “Outdoor learning and activities will be encouraged as possible,” in addition to “ventilation including windows, fans, and HVAC settings will be used to maximize the amount of outside air in program areas.”
Pateros Schools participate in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. No sport activities are scheduled for now.
The reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year can be viewed on the school district website, http://www.pateros.org, and is subject to change based on current infection rates and directives provided by state and county departments of health.
Over the summer, the district reached out to parents to discuss education program plans for the 2020-2021 school year. Goodnight reported that approximately 70% of parents contacted wish to enroll their students in the in-school program, while 30% of parents plan to enroll their students in the online program.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Pateros School District has worked diligently to keep students and parents engaged and active.
Last spring, para-educators and bus drivers delivered more than 5,000 meals and a towering amount of mail to and from teachers and students, according to an email from Goodnight.
Graduation for Pateros High School 2020 seniors was celebrated with three main events. An online ceremony included speeches by Pateros principal Mike Hull, valedictorian Kaitlynd Russell, and salutatorian Ivan Ceniceros. A senior parade through town was escorted by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s office and Pateros/Methow volunteer firefighters. A fireworks show cumulated the trio of events in Pateros City Park.
The Pateros School District Facebook page has proven to be a valuable resource of engagement for teachers, parents and students. The school librarian, Pam Haley, posts storytime videos with illustrated children’s books.
For a small rural school, the Pateros community, staff and educators ensure a robust program to engage students with opportunity. The college credit course offers 90 college credits this year through University of Washington, Wenatchee Valley College, Eastern Washington University, and Central Washington University.
For more information about the upcoming school year, visit http://www.pateros.org.