Parents and guardians of CSD students, I want to begin this message with a “thank you” for your patience as we work through our Back To School plans this fall. For the past several months, staff within the CSD have been working nonstop to prepare for the opening of school this fall. Unfortunately, the conditions and updates surrounding COVID have evolved on a weekly basis with new information that changed the trajectory of recommendations and requirements. Our desire has always been to return to on-site learning beginning September 2nd, but our latest guidance from the Washington State Department of Health has caused us to alter our course.
District officials have continued to consult with our local health departments in Walla Walla, Benton, and Franklin Counties. On August 5th, Governor Inslee released a new set of recommendations for schools across the state. Schools are being asked to work with local health departments as we look at community wide transmission rates. Unfortunately, Walla Walla County’s risk assessment numbers place schools within the community at a level of “High COVID-19 Activity”. Our current community transmission levels and rates are about five times above what is recommended for even a hybrid on-site learning model. With the health and safety of students, staff, and our community in mind, I am writing to inform our
community that Columbia School District will be starting the year in a fully-remote/distance learning model in which most students will learn from home. There still remains the possibility that a small group of specifically targeted students will receive on-site support. Those plans are being created as we speak.
As for the start of school and what that will look like, here is what we know so far: We learned from the community survey that the distance learning model last year was difficult for all parties involved therefore the online option to start the year will be an improved model from this past spring. First, daily attendance/engagement will be required as well as specific grading expectations. Furthermore, all students K-12 will be provided with technology in the form of a Chromebook to take home to enhance their learning progression. These are just a few examples of the changes that will occur to start the year. More details will be made available over the next few weeks as we lead up to the first day of school on September 2nd.
District officials will look at the risk-factor again in the first week of October to re-evaluate our plans and decide if we are able to return to an on-site learning model. Until then, we are committed to providing both students and parents a high-quality remote learning experience that offers supportive and engaging instruction. Our commitment to the on-site learning model remains steadfast as we believe that nothing can replace the in-person classroom instructional experience. We remain determined to get students and staff safely back on campus as soon as possible. We will continue to keep you up to date with any changes with COVID in addition to adjustments in the teaching and learning process. I want to thank you again for your patience and community support as we move ahead in these uncertain times. We are here to support our
community and families
Todd Hilberg, Superintendent