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By Drew Lawson
Cheney Free Press 

Medical Lake students will study from home this fall

District follows lead of Spokane, Cheney and Tri-Cities schools


Last updated 8/7/2020 at 8:59pm

MEDICAL LAKE — Local students will be starting the school year mostly online learning model, School District Superintendent Tim Ames announced today, Aug. 7.

The decision followed state and regional health recommendations for “high-risk” counties where more than 75 new coronavirus cases have been reported in a 14-day period.

“Our school board and administrative team have the obligation to follow the strong recommendations from the health experts,” Ames said in a video posted to the district’s website. “Though it is not the situation we had hoped for, distance learning is one for which we have prepared for as a district.”

Ames added that there would be small group in-person learning with heavy safety precautions taken for the district’s “most vulnerable populations.”

The district is following Spokane and Cheney school districts, which previously annouced plans for distance learning, as did the schools in the Tri-Cities.

The nearby Mead School District, Davenport, Ritzville, Colfax and others in the region are planning some form of on-campus education.

Cheney had planned to go back on-campus, until Spokane Regional Health Director Robert "Bob" Lutz instead recommended all area schools go online, a move that also followed a recommendation from Gov. Jay Inslee.

Colfax schools may also move to an online curriculum as the coronavirus pandemic has started spreading in Whitman County, imported by Washington State University students moving into the Pullman area.

The move online also follows the state teacher unions call to keep students at home.

Medical Lake options

Medical Lake students have two distance learning options:

Option 1 — A virtual-learning model with the option to return to on-campus education when safe to do so. This model will be led by district

teachers and allows children to maintain the same teachers when it is deemed safe to do so.

Option 2 — A “self-paced” online model through Connect+. This option is for students choosing to stay virtual through the whole school year.

Families have until Aug. 21 to notify the district of their choice.

Ames added that the School District hopes to return to in-person learning for all students “as soon as possible, pending recommendations from public health officials.”

When safe to return to in-person learning, grades K-5 will meet four days a week, with one day being a distance learning day. Grades 6-12 will be in-person two days a week and distanced three days a week.

These grades will be divided into Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday in-person groups.

The first day of school is Sept. 2. The district is asking parents to schedule teacher conferences the first week of class to meet teachers and learn about necessary materials and support.

The district will send out sign-up information Aug. 26.

Author Bio

Drew Lawson, Reporter and sports writer

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Drew Lawson is a reporter and sports writer for Free Press Publishing, including the Cheney Free Press and Davenport Times. He is a graduate of Eastern Washington University.


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