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Bainbridge schools' fall plans include partial-day attendance

Kitsap Sun (Bremerton) logo Kitsap Sun (Bremerton) 7/14/2020 Chris Henry, Kitsap Sun

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — Students on Bainbridge Island will be offered a "hybrid" model of in-person learning that involves partial-day attendance for all grades.

The draft back-to-school plan, announced last week by Bainbridge Island School District, also includes an all-online option.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Washington state continues to rise, Kitsap and North Mason district officials have published plans to return to school in the fall with the caveat that plans could change if conditions dictate. 

Most districts' plans include some version of the hybrid model with limited in-person instruction supplemented by online learning. Schools will be operating at reduced capacity because of the need to maintain social distancing.

Bainbridge families will select either the hybrid or 100% online model for their students. Students in the same families can select different options, the district said.

Students in grades K-8 will attend school in-person for partial days four days a week (Monday through Thursday) for approximately  2.5 to 3 hours a day. Half of the student body will attend in the morning, half in the afternoon.

Students in grades 9-12 will attend in-person partial days for at least three or four days a week for 2.5 to 3 hours a day. The number of days is "to be determined," according to a news release from the district.

"BISD is still analyzing how to balance in-person and remote content at the high school level," the district said. High school families will get additional information this week.

A survey in June showed 64% of people who responded were interested in in-person instruction, 5% said they would select all-online, and others were unsure or would be making a split decision because of the different needs of their students. 

Advantages of partial days

The district also considered a model that would have had the students attending two full days a week, such as is being considered by North Kitsap School District. Bainbridge officials deemed that the partial-day model would provide more frequent in-person contact with staff and peers, "which is beneficial to students' social and emotional health."

The partial-day model also was seen as advantageous to students with higher needs, including those in special education and English language learners because they'd have the opportunity to attend school for additional hours or receive targeted support services as needed.

Finally, the district concluded, the partial-day model "requires students to wear masks for shorter periods of time as compared to other in-person models the task force considered."

Masks will be required on campus (except when students are eating). Students will have the option of wearing face shields, but fabric masks are recommended.

Health safety precautions

Students and staff will be screened daily on entering school.

Classrooms will be sanitized before each shift of students arrives, per state Department of Health guidelines. The district is re-programming its HVAC systems to increase air circulation as the spread of COVID-19 has been linked to poor ventilation.

Distance learning for students in the hybrid model may include assignments provided by teachers during in-person instruction and/or online components.

Families are encouraged to transport their students to school or have them walk or ride a bike to school. The district will provide bus transportation for those who need it.

The district will try to get siblings on the same schedule. District officials are determining a protocol for assigning students to either the morning or afternoon shift with the goal of consistency for families, according to a FAQ on the district's website. The current plan is to have all schools run on the same bell schedule. The district plans to let families know by early August whether they've been assigned to the morning or afternoon shift.

District officials advised families to be ready to switch to the all-online option, Continuous Learning 2.0, given the ever-changing landscape of the coronavirus pandemic.

"BISD currently has a team working on this possibility with the focus of strengthening and improving Continuous Learning," the district said.

All-online is an option

Students who choose the 100% online model will be using the online curriculum platform Edgenuity, which is based on Washington State Common Core standards. The platform provides a full range of grade-level courses for students in grades K-6 and a comprehensive course catalog for secondary students (7-12).

The 100% online option will operate at the district level, and students won't be tied to a particular school. Although Edgenuity is not specifically designed for student interaction, teachers will work with a group of assigned students and will try to provide opportunities for connection within the group.

Parent or guardian support is necessary for younger students enrolled in 100% online and is highly recommended for older students, the district said.

The district's current plan is for all students K-12 to return to the traditional grading model, after the state this spring allowed for a flexed grading standard. The 100% online model will track student progress by percentage of content mastered that will be converted to the grading scale by the supervising teacher.

"Both of these options have pluses and minuses, and require new teaching and learning approaches," the district said. "This announcement was the first piece of a very complicated puzzle. The remainder of the summer will be spent tackling the details of these educational models and developing the processes and protocols to implement the state’s required health measures."

Chris Henry reports on education and community news for the Kitsap Sun. Reach her at (360) 792-9219 or christina.henry@kitsapsun.com. Support coverage of local news by signing up today for a digital subscription.

This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Bainbridge schools' fall plans include partial-day attendance

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