MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Update (August 10)

Dear Methow Valley Students, Parents, and Community Members,

Working in response to a fluid and ever-changing situation, we’ve made a point of communicating what we know and involving you wherever possible to ensure a safe return to school in the fall.

This goal hasn’t changed… I want to let you know that we have recently received new information from our local public health officials that could result in a change to the Learning Options – The elimination of Option A: Hybrid Model to begin the new school year.

Most of you are likely aware that not too long ago, Governor Inslee held a press conference where he announced an updated set of guidelines issued by the WA State Department of Health. Consistent with what we anticipated, they were not mandates, rather guidelines that include thresholds defined by the number of positive COVID 19 cases per 100,000 during a two week period. He also said that these thresholds were developed to assist local school leaders and public health officials make informed decisions as to when it would be safe to open schools up (partially or fully) for in-person instruction within our respective communities.

What we’ve learned since is that local public health officials have the ability to further tighten the guidelines set forth by the WA State Department of Health if and when they believe there is a need to do so in support of a community’s safety.

In a joint letter recently issued by public health officials representing Region 7 (Chelan-Douglas Counties, Grant County, Okanogan County, and Kittitas County), it has been made clear that based upon the rapid rise in positive COVID 19 cases throughout our region and within each county, all school districts should plan to begin school remotely in the fall. More specifically, they have stated the following:

  • We do not support a return to in-person classroom instruction when the county incidence of COVID-19 is above 75 / 100,000 / 14 days for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • We support a hybrid approach with K-5 and other educationally high-risk groups in-person in classrooms with COVID precautions when the county incidence of COVID-19 is < 75 / 100,000 / 14 days for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • We support return to in-person classroom instruction for all student populations, with COVID-19 precautions, when the county incidence of COVID-19 is < 25 / 100,000 / 14 days for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • School districts may petition the Local Public Health Jurisdiction for an exception to these reopening thresholds and other standards.

Please know that I have initiated conversations with our local public health officials, asking about the feasibility of an “exception” for the MVSD based upon our current case loads within the MVSD attendance boundaries, community involvement in the development of the MVSD 2020-21 “Return to Learn” Plan, and available learning options for students and parents.

I look forward to sharing what I learn and more during the upcoming MVSD 2020-21 Return to Learn Informational Meeting set to take place remotely via Zoom on Thursday, August 13th from 6 – 7:30 pm.

Sincerely,

Tom Venable
Superintendent, Methow Valley School District

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