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By Jana Hill
Mill Creek Beacon Editor 

Mill Creek schools on-track for onsite learning

Inslee directs schools to an April 19 deadline


Last updated 3/25/2021 at 1:57pm

Photo courtesy of Everett Public Schools

Everett Public Schools vaccinated 610 staff members March 14, in a vaccine-clinic at Evergreen Middle School. All received the J&J vaccine and will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks from the shot-date. Feb. 8 the district started toward onsite education with a hybrid onsite and online option. Teachers and school staff were made eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in early March.

Schools serving Mill Creek were already moving toward reopening classrooms as the state delivered a push this week.

In a March 15 announcement, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation requiring K-12 schools to offer remote and in-person options. A hybrid option in K-12 schools is required by April 5. The deadline to ramp up to 30% on the hybrid option is April 19.

Schools are required to offer at least two days per week of on-campus, in-person instruction, according to a news release from Inslee's office.

Everett Public Schools started its hybrid programming on Feb. 8. It draws Mill Creek students to Jackson High School, Heatherwood Middle School and Mill Creek Elementary. Others under the Everett umbrella include schools in Bothell: Tambark, Woodside and Cedar Wood elementary schools.

Kathy Reeves, communications director for the Everett Public Schools, said the school district is on the way to the end-goal in the proclamation.

"We are not done getting the 30% in yet. As of today, K-5 is back in the building, so we have met the April 6 deadline. But we have not returned secondary yet, so we have not hit the 30% minimum," Reeves said.

For Everett Public Schools, the goal is achievable by April 19, she said.

Snohomish School District serves Mill Creek students at Seattle Hill and Cathcart elementary schools, and also draws students from Valley View Junior High and Glacier Peak High School.

"Prior to this proclamation our district had plans and timelines in place for the return of all grade levels through grade 12," said Kristin Foley, communications director for Snohomish School District.

Snohomish Schools also started hybrid programming Feb. 8 and paired it with a study on asymptomatic COVID-19, in partnership with the University of Washington. As of March 16, the study was still recording zero cases of asymptomatic COVID-19 with 517 people enrolled. The schools employ all required protocols to prevent viral spread, per district officials and observations at a site visit.

For attendance preparing toward the governor's directive, Snohomish School District was well on its way to the state-required goal in late-April, Foley said. Students through the sixth grade were already back, and grades seven, nine, and 12 will return on March 29, she said. Grades eight, 10 and 11 will return on April 12, she said.

The state push for a return to onsite education comes as vaccination efforts are underway. It aims to remedy educational inequities and mental health concerns among students, the governor's news release states.

The effort balances limits on social connection with the numerous pressures of a pandemic, for a youth population that can lack decision-making power.

"This has been a long year for our state's students and their families. They have lived with fear and uncertainty," Inslee said in a press conference. "The youth mental health crisis has become significantly worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is time to provide an in-person learning option to help students that need it."

Under the proclamation, schools are free to bring back students with a staggered method, to minimize crowding and continue to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Required for return are physical distancing, masking and environmental cleaning, with protocols from the Department of Health. The safety of workers is spelled out by the state Department of Labor and Industries.

The Everett School Board discussed staffing challenges in a past board meeting, many stemming from long-term leave requests. Inslee responded by opening up eligibility for teachers and staff and the districts held clinics to give their employees access to vaccines.


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