Central Valley middle, high school students heading back to class in February

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Since March, middle and high school students with the Central Valley School District have been learning online. Starting on February 1st, they’ll head back to campus once a week.

Seniors didn’t picture their final year in high school to be anything like this.

“I was really excited to be a lead in a play for my senior year and things like that,” said Maddie Owens, a senior at Central Valley High School. “The whole year I’ve just been praying just one day. Just one day a week. That’s all I need.”

University High School senior, Tavin McAllister, echoed the same thought.

“I guess going into it I was picturing a fun senior year like my brother had two years ago and like football games,” McAllister said.

Learning at home has had its set of challenges for students, like University High senior Aimee Hawley.

“I think the biggest struggle has just been keeping up with my work and everything,” she said.

The virtual learning won’t go away, but there will be a little bit of relief.

On Monday night, the School Board approved the phase-in plan presented by the district. Families still have the option to keep their children strictly virtual. Students who opted to go in person will be divided into four groups, according to the school district. For example, if Adam is in group A, he’ll go to class on Monday.

Adam will go to three, 80-minute periods. He’ll then grab his lunch and head home to finish his classes online. The other three groups will be learning online that day.

“In this model we’ll be between 450 and 500 [students], which is a really good starting place to make sure that we can efficiently and safely get kids in the building, get them in their classes,” said Kerri Ames, principal at Central Valley High.

On Tuesday, Adam will be learning at home in his small group. Wednesdays, all the students will be home. Thursdays and Fridays, Adam will spend his day learning online.

This plan for group A and other groups is still being finalized by the district.

When students go to school, they’ll have to turn in a symptom check form. The school district will also check their temperature before walking in.

“This is about doing it right and about safety and we’re going to follow the protocols the best we can,” said Keven Frandsen, principal at University High.

Class sizes will cap out at about 15 students, social distancing markers will be on the ground and hand sanitizer stations will be all around campus. Schools will be cleaned every day.

McAllister says he’s excited to go back, and hopes other students don’t take advantage of the phasing in process.

“I think that we are making that happen safely, let’s make sure we don’t lose it,” he explained. “Lose what we’re getting so please everyone, follow the protocols.”

Learning from home hasn’t been all bad, the seniors said.

“It’s been nice, a little bit nice to have time to reflect on myself and what I need to be successful in my life,” McAllister said.

They say it’s made them appreciate what they may have taken for granted before the pandemic.

“I’ve really seen this year that even just hanging out with my friends has changed so much and I never would’ve thought that not — me wanting to go to school so bad would be a possibility,” Hawley said.

Depending on this hybrid model, infection rate and guidance from the Spokane Regional Health District, students could go up to two days a week in school starting in March.

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