Required distance learning may be coming to an end for Highline Public Schools as the district’s hybrid plan gets up and running starting today, but the instruction style has proved sufficient for many students and families, district Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield said.
As a result, remote learning will continue to be offered for some students in the fall.
The district is moving forward with its detailed, multi-phased reopening plan for students in pre-K through fifth grade, following recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gov. Jay Inslee.
Today, pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade students, as well as all students in the Intensive Academic Center will be permitted to return to classrooms, followed by second and third graders on March 22 and students in fourth and fifth grade on April 1, assuming there aren’t any major COVID-19 outbreaks or spikes in case numbers before then.
Under the hybrid model, participating students will attend school for half-days four days a week, with the rest of their time occupied by distance learning.
The district has a plan to offer remote learning to a limited number of students who prefer it to in-person instruction, even after COVID-19 vaccinations have been widely distributed and schools are all fully back in session, said Dr. Enfield, who has been superintendent for eight years.
“Here’s the thing, we know in general distance learning is not ideal for a lot of kids, but we’ve also heard that some kids and families love it,” she said. “So, we’re launching the Highline Virtual Academy in the fall.”
It’ll be its own school, Dr. Enfield said, not like what the district has been doing for the past 10 months.
“What we’re doing now is in-person school by computer,” she said. “We’re not changing the instructional mode. The Virtual Academy will be an entirely different instructional model. It won’t be a replica of distance learning, it will be its own entity for students who learn best in that setting, which isn’t everyone.”
The new online learning school will be open this fall to students in sixth-12th grades. Families who are interested in applying must fill out a form, located here.
Until then, students who declined to choose the hybrid model of instruction will continue with distance learning as they’ve experienced it from the start of the school year.You can read more about the district’s plan to reopen classrooms here.