Spokane kindergarten students head to school for the first time on Wednesday

SPS kindergarten students start school on Wednesday

SPOKANE, Wash. — A big day is coming for Spokane kindergarten students. On Wednesday, they’ll walk into the classroom for the first time this year.

Students will learn in a hybrid model. Some will go to school one day while others stay virtual. The groups will switch the next day and continue to alternate. It’s a relief for one Spokane parent.

“For kindergarten, it has been more of just a fight to stay in front of the computer and focus on the teacher and not run off and play with toys,” said Kristin Davis, mother of a kindergarten student. “It’s been chaotic.”

Davis said it’s also been a challenge for her son, Porter.

“There’s too many distractions at home,” Davis said. “I feel like they need more interaction with their peers and especially their teacher.”

Spokane Public Schools have safety measures in place to protect students and staff such as social distancing, extra sanitation and the use of masks.

According to SPS, parents need to fill out a student health check 30 minutes before they go to school. It’ll ask parents if their child has symptoms, been in close contact with a positive case or has taken fever medication.

The online form, which can also be submitted through an app, will be sent to the school district. SPS said if a student comes to school without a completed health check, they’ll go to the office where their temperature will be taken.

Davis said she supports students going back to school in a phased approach.

“There’s always a worry about it [COVID-19] just as well as going back to school in the fall with the flu and cold season, but I feel like the school district has taken great precautions,” she explained.

Spokane Regional Health said they looked at many factors before making the in-person learning recommendation.

In a statement to 4 News Now they said,

In addition to watching the cases per capita metric, we also watch hospitalizations, ability of case and contract tracing to successfully contain the spread, test positivity rates, and mortality rates. When you focus on only one metric and look at its daily movement, then you do not see the big picture of what’s happening with COVID-19 spread in our community. Looking at a two-week or monthly trend of multiple metrics and seeing the success of response efforts gives us the full context to base our guidance on. With respect to schools, it’s also important for us to monitor incident rates in school-aged children as well as cases in schools.

Based on the overall case numbers, Spokane County is considered high-risk of spreading the virus in schools, based on recommendations from the Washington Department of Health.

The DOH said they recommend distance learning, but with optional limited in-person learning or small groups.

SPS said if someone tests positive for COVID-19, a contact tracing team will get a list of close contacts, notify them and families. The school district will also launch a COVID-19 dashboard. It’ll list any positive cases, the number of close contacts and what school has the positive case.

“I think that they [SPS] really thought this out and did it methodically,” Davis said, “and I am super thankful that we’re on the road to hopefully getting more grades back in this classroom.”

SPS said all kindergarten students will be back in a classroom together on Oct. 19.

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