November 6, 2020
Dear White Salmon Valley School District Families,
This year has presented many challenges for all of us, some of them we expected and others we didn’t. I appreciate the patience and grace our community has demonstrated during a time of great uncertainty.
Our school team has been working hard to achieve the goal of safely bringing staff and students back to the classroom for in-person education. We know that in-person education is the most beneficial for our kids for a variety of reasons, but, as we all know, it is also difficult to achieve safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
White Salmon Valley School District is in a uniquely challenging position. We have an incredible and highly experienced staff, committed to providing a quality education to our students. Some have dedicated their entire lives to supporting student learning. The challenge we are faced with is that nearly one-third of our veteran staff is considered high-risk for developing complications related to COVID-19.
The district is on track to bring students in grades Kindergarten and 1st grade, plus 4th grade back for in-person education on a hybrid schedule, starting November 16th. Grades 2, 3, 5 and 6 are also scheduled to move forward with in-person, hybrid education starting on November 30th. Grades 7 and 8 are scheduled to move forward with in-person, hybrid education starting on December 7.
Due to concerns related to COVID-19, however, our district has made the difficult decision to continue all high school grades 9-12 learning remotely until after the holidays and evaluate a scheduled in-person start date in January. The high school’s goal is to start bringing back small groups of students in November for support until they come back fully into a hybrid model.
For those students who will remain in a remote learning mode until 2021, the district has approached this issue from all angles in an attempt to provide in-person education to those students. There simply aren’t enough substitutes to support the need. Plus, a substitute doesn’t replace the quality instruction and relationship built between students and one, consistent educator.
We want to have kids back in the classroom just as much as families do, but we also must protect and support staff at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19 during this difficult time. Our veteran educators are one of the greatest assets of the White Salmon Valley School District and we simply must do what is right to support our team members.
As you know, things continue to evolve and our target dates and plans may change. We are committed to keeping families informed and promise to deliver regular updates. Again, thank you for your patience, empathy and understanding.
Dr. Jerry Lewis, Superintendent
White Salmon School District