‘Last resort option’: Local school districts exhaust resources to keep kids in class

SPOKANE, Wash. — Staffing shortages and COVID surges are testing local schools districts’ abilities to keep kids in class.  Going to online learning is the last resort, but something they’re preparing for.

Schools are used to unexpected changes and dealing with COVID’s curveballs for the past few years. At Central  Valley, they’ve improved their ability to take things day by day. They’re tracking staff attendance daily to make sure they have enough teachers to cover classes. They’re also addressing issues at the classroom level instead of district-wide.

“If we had something that just impacted one classroom, that’s what we’d look at first,” said Brian Asmus, the Director of School Safety and Security at Central Valley School District.

They would close a classroom or school by themselves before thinking about the whole district.

“We are making every effort that we can to prevent any type of virtual learning to happen,” Asmus added.

Districts want to prevent online learning, but they’re being proactive.

“This is just a last resort option, but you’ve got to be prepared. You’d be irresponsible if you weren’t talking about it, communicating it, planning for it and preparing for it,” said Randy Russell, the Superintendent for Freeman School District.

Freeman School District wants families to know they have remote tools ready and on hand. They’re in the planning stages if they’d have to go remote again. The issue isn’t only with having enough teachers, but severe staffing shortages overall aren’t helping when people call out sick.

“If you can’t transport the kids here or if you can’t feed all the kids, then you’re going to have to make some changes within your system.”

Both districts said the CDC’s shortened five-day quarantine will also help them keep kids in school.

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