Education

Some students will return to in-person schooling next week

Most students will continue to study remotely

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North Thurston Public Schools announced they will begin to phase in small groups of students for in-person classes beginning next week, after starting the school year with entirely remote classes.

The decision coincides with Thurston County Health Officer Dimyana Abdelmalek sending a letter to the county’s schools recommending slowly reintegrating in-person classes for high-need students.

School officials are evaluating which students are in the greatest need of in-person instruction.

“We understand there will be a variety of reasons why an educator believes a student should receive some in-person instruction or services, such as Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses that require access to specialized equipment, special services, and other hands-on learning experiences,” reads the statement.

Transportation and meals will be provided for those students.

In her letter to school officials, Abdelmalek said COVID-19 transmission rates have dropped since her previous recommendation that schools start with no in-person classes. By Sept. 19, there were 30.8 positive cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people, compared to 60.5 positive cases in the beginning of July.

Abdelmalek said she will continue to monitor the county-wide data as the school year continues, and may need to implement restrictions to in-person education again should an alarming spike in cases occur.

“When school district and schools follow all the provided guidance outlined we can ensure, to the extent possible, sustainability of a school environment  where in-person learning is safe for all who work and learn in our schools,” she wrote.

For students notified that they’re selected to attend in-person classes, North Thurston Public Schools announced that if the student isn’t feeling well, they still need to stay home. Everyone in the building will be required to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash their hands when entering their classroom and complete a wellness screening.

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