Central Valley Schools get ready to bring back 2nd graders

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Second graders will soon fill empty seats again in the Central Valley School District.

The district received the greenlight to bring back the students next Wednesday. Next week marks a month since students in the Central Valley School District returned to in-person learning. The district has been phasing kids in every two weeks.

Wednesday marked one week since first graders returned to the the classroom, learning in-person again.

“Certainly a lot of excitement. There was no shortage of that,” said Stephen Gibbs, a first grade teacher at Chester Elementary.

Second grade teacher Teresa Humphrey will get to see that excitement for herself in just one week.

“I’m really nervous. I’m just, wearing a mask all day is going to be hard and just keeping them entertained at their desks all day, it’s going to be hard,” Humphrey said.

Although it may be tough, she’s ready to face it and help give her kids the best education they can get.

In her 24 years of teaching, she’s been used to helping kids in the classroom. Teaching them virtually has been a different experience on its own. She gets to look to her other colleagues, like Gibbs, who’s been teaching in the new normal.

“We certainly had a lot of concerns about how it’s going to look, but now that they’re back, it’s just like being back in a classroom,” he said. “I think that kiddos are much more resilient when it comes down to all the questions and concerns that are running through our heads.”

RELATED: Central Valley second graders to return to in-person learning next Wednesday

With more kids coming into school buildings, the possibility of COVID-19 coming into classes increases.

In the last two weeks, the district reported four people testing positive for the virus in its elementary schools with even more people quarantining. When students have to quarantine, they’re sent home with assignments to complete.

“We have had a situation that has happened,” said Chester Elementary Principal Cindy Sothen, of students having to quarantine. “The teacher was amazing at checking in with the parents and making sure as little academics are lost, as possible.”

Rest assured, the schools are doing what they can, making sure students are masking up and distancing themselves from one another.

“Sometimes we might get a little over anxious if somebody has a cough or something like that because we want to be proactive with some of the symptoms COVID,” Sothen said.

The district will begin bringing back second graders by splitting them up first. Half the students will come back to school on Wednesday, another half the next day. Then, they will all be in class together on Friday.

Even through all the changes, though, teachers are happy to have their kids back.

“It certainly has brought a lot of energy back to their learning, and it kind of reminded me of why I’m a teacher, and why I was going through all of the steps of virtual learning, because hopefully, the end goal is to get everyone back in the classroom,” Gibbs said.

As for the other grades after second, it’ll be up to the Spokane Regional Health District. Spokane County’s health officer, Dr. Bob Lutz, supported in-person learning for grades K-2 in late September.

A Central Valley School District spokesperson says they are working with the health district in figuring out the next steps in bringing back the older kids.

RELATED: How to help your kids get used to wearing masks for school

RELATED: Spokane Public Schools to begin phasing first graders into the classroom Nov. 9