Dear White River Staff and Families,
Following a meeting today (7/23/2020) with Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, we learned that they have determined that it is unsafe to fully open schools at this time, due to the growing number of COVID 19 cases in our region. In his letter, Dr. Chen of TPCHD said, “We all understand the importance of quality education, social‐emotional learning, addressing food and special needs, parents’ need to work, and so many other critical issues. However, it is of utmost importance that we protect the health of our students, education professionals, and school support staff. At this time, I do not feel we can do so if we open schools for onsite instruction in September.”
White River schools will start this fall with every student in distance learning. Fortunately, our experiences at the end of the last school year, the survey responses, and the parent focus groups have all served to provide us with valuable information on how to improve the distance learning experience. Because we knew that this was always a possibility, we’ve had a large team of teachers and administrators working on what a full distance learning model should look like. As a result of this effort, we can guarantee distance learning will be improved for the coming year. However, we are going to need your continued help and support.
We are working on a plan for in-person learning for our vulnerable populations. This may include students served with an IEP, as well as, students in need of additional support. More information will be provided as we finalize these plans. Staff will be delivering instruction daily from the school buildings. They will be required to follow all the safety protocols. It’s important that each of us continue to do our part so that schools can open to in-person instruction again.
Tacoma Pierce County Health Department’s full recommendations for schools can be accessed here. https://www.tpchd.org/Home/Components/Blog/Blog/31655/333
We know this creates many concerns for families, and we wish we were not bringing you this news so late in the summer. We are hopeful that we will be able to shift back to our plans for a hybrid model soon, as COVID-19 cases decrease in Pierce County. On August 14th, each family can expect a plan for the 2020-21 school year that details the distance learning plan and the hybrid option if we can move in that direction during the year. We will, as always, communicate any changes or updates as soon as we get them. We will continue to commit to providing a high-quality education for your children and support our staff to make it happen.
Janel Keating Hambly