‘We’re finally done’: Spokane Public Schools teachers, students celebrate last day of school

SPOKANE, Wash. — The hallways of Rogers High School looked a little more empty than usual late Tuesday morning. It was the last day of school for Spokane Public Schools.

Students were hugging each other and doing their handshakes right outside the front doors, saying goodbye to school and hello to summer.

“We’re finally done,” said Marie Tamura, a teacher at Rogers High School.

This last year of school was anything but normal and that included the last day of school for high schoolers.

“This is our second last day of school. We had a last day of school yesterday with the ‘A group,’ and today is our last day of school with the ‘B group,'” Tamura said.

Of course, the students were excited to be done, but so were the teachers.

Tamura’s classroom was empty and she was all packed and ready to leave right when school let out at 11 a.m. All grades had early releases on the last day of school.

“It feels great. We’ve had a long year,” Tamura said.

It was a long year for students who struggled with online learning and had so many changes to their schedules. It was a tiring year for parents who had to keep up with the changes and shift their work to accommodate their kids, and it was an exhausting year for teachers who had to adapt to so many changes, too.

In Tamura’s more than three decade tenure of being an educator, she said this was the toughest year yet.

Students in SPS started with online learning in September then eventually transitioned to hybrid learning. Grades were slowly phased in and high schoolers didn’t end up going back into classrooms until the beginning of March.

Freshman Justy Lynn Clark, who will be entering 10th grade in the fall, said she enjoyed being back in class.

“It’s fun actually. I love being in the building. I love seeing all my friends and stuff and hanging out and going to classes, because online was so boring. I kept falling asleep,” Clark said.

Students in high school ended up staying in the hybrid model for the rest of the year while everyone else went back full-time. With so many students in high schools and social distancing guidelines, the district couldn’t make it work to bring them back altogether.

Having the alternate schedules was a little more work for teachers, making sure their kids who were learning in-person got what they need, and then ensuring the kids learning from home had the necessary assignments.

“It’s been pleasant, but it’s always that time to end at the end of the year,” Tamura said.

As for the next school year, schools in Washington will be required to offer full-time, in-person learning. SPS will be doing that and offer full remote options for families who want that, too. The district is still figuring out all the details.