SPOKANE, Wash. - After the 2019/2020 school year was cut short, Spokane Public Schools is looking ahead toward fall and what schools will look like post-COVID.
When it comes to the question of what students and families can expect come fall, Spokane Public Schools Associate Superintendent Adam Swinyard said there's still a lot left to be determined. He said a state-level task force has been established for some of the broader parameters, which will be taken in along with a more unique plan for the school district.
"Really, it's potentially three broad scenarios," Swinyard said.
The first of those scenarios would mean a return to schools and classrooms like normal, but with significant safety precautions. This would include wearing masks, taking temperatures and exercising social distancing in the hallways and classrooms.
In the second scenario, Swinyard said students and staff would continue on with a similar distanced-learning format to what's currently in place.
"If that's the case, we'll have to do some real intentional planning to figure out how that's the best possible experience for students in an extended timeline," Swinyard said.
The third scenario would be a bit of a hybrid of the first two, in which students are on an A-B schedule. This would mean half of the students would come one day, while the other half came another day. Or, some students may have morning schedules while others have afternoon schedules.
"There's lots of complexities to any of these scenarios," Swinyard said. "The hybrid scenarios are challenging when we talk about cleaning adequately, child care for our staff, child care for our parents and their families."
Regardless of whichever scenario ends up being adopted, Swinyard said there is certainty in uncertainty.
"There are many uncertainties The one thing that is likely very certain is that things will never be the same again," he said.
He continued to not that schools will be facing a new normal, one that comes with extra precautions to maintain the safety and wellness of staff, students and families. It's a situation that remains very much fluid and all they can do is plan for what they know, and what they know is that kids will be going to school in the fall.
"It can be difficult for kids to be away over the summer and transition back to school. Now we're looking at potentially being away from them for six months. So we know there's going to have to be a very well laid out plan for students to make that transition," Swinyard said.
In terms of specifics, Swinyard said Spokane Public Schools likely won't have anything concrete for families until June or July.
Associate Superintendent of Spokane Public Schools Mark Anderson said that it still hasn't been determined whether kids will be able to play sports or participate in other extracurriculars in the fall.
For Anderson, the priority right now is safely closing out the current school year, getting buildings deep cleaned and getting students' belongings returned to them. That cleaning, Anderson said, will be happening in the next two months.
Beyond that, Spokane Public Schools will be aiming to give kids back a little sense of normalcy.
"We're going to do everything we can within the parameters that are safe to give kids that opportunity. You're only a 4th grader once. You're only a high school sophomore once and we're going to do everything we can to provide that experience for our kids," Swinyard said.