‘I’m excited to go back’: Mead Schools’ middle and high schoolers get ready to go back full-time

MEAD, Wash. — It was a senior year like no other for so many students in the Inland Northwest and across the country.

Mead High School student Ayden Cannon is ready to go back five days a week. He hasn’t been back in class every day since before the pandemic.

“I’m excited to go back full-time with my friends for one last time,” he told 4 News Now.

It’s one last time he gets to walk through the halls with all his friends, rather than just half of them on the hybrid schedule.

He’s grateful he even had that.

“Because when we went to full online at the end of last year, that really sucked, and my study habits went way down. Just having at least half a normal year was really nice,” he said.

RELATED: Mead School District to bring all students back to class full-time

The Mead School District was one of the first in Eastern Washington to open up in-person learning in the fall. Its elementary school students were able to attend in-person every day of the week. However, because of social distancing rules, middle and high school students had to go on a hybrid schedule. They couldn’t fit every student in classrooms.

“It feels like we’ve come a really long way since September and it’s just a great relief,” said Superintendent Shawn Woodward. “Probably, the biggest thing is the level of confidence we have in all the safety mitigation strategies that we’ve used.”

Now, one of those mitigation strategies changed. Previously, they had to have students sit six feet apart from each other. The CDC and the state recently said it was safe enough for students to sit three feet apart rather than six. That made it possible for Ayden and many other students to go back to school full time.

Woodward was excited to make that change, especially since he asked the state to relax social distancing in schools with other school leaders in February.

“I think we feel really confident. Honestly, much more so than we did in September,” he said. “We’re excited for next Friday to get everybody back.”

Fr041321 Back To School Hybrid Learningiday, April 23, is the date when every student in middle and high school will be back in buildings again, altogether.

The district plans to have the regular hybrid schedule for this week and on Monday and Tuesday. Then, on the following Wednesday and Thursday, all secondary students will be learning remotely so teachers and staff can make changes in their rooms. Then, Friday, all students will head back to class together.

With this change, that means seniors in high school will get to finish out their last year of school in a more normal way. Not only that, they will get to have in-person graduation, too.

Last year, the Mead School District had a drive-through graduation.

“It wouldn’t feel the same, obviously.  You just go with your family and drive through it’s like you’re going to McDonald’s or something,” Ayden said. “I’m glad we actually get a real graduation.”

Ayden will have to walk the halls and learn at school every day again before he gets to walk across a field to cap off his high school career.

While he and all the other seniors finish out their last year of school, the district is beginning to make plans for the 2021-22 school year.

READ: Eastern WA school leaders see difference in students learning remotely versus in person