Tuesday, May 11, 2021
May 11, 2021

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Vancouver schools plan for new ‘spring hybrid’ plan starting early May

Select grade levels, high-risk students will receive 4 days of in-person instruction

By , Columbian staff writer

Vancouver Public Schools plans to pivot once again with hybrid learning and tentatively plans to start four-day-a-week hybrid schedule for select grade levels beginning in May. 

In a “spring hybrid” presentation to school board members Tuesday night, district officials outlined plans to have students in kindergarten through third grade advancing to in-person instruction four days per week May 3. Students in fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth grades move to the four-day-a-week in-person learning model May 10. 

VPS acknowledged not all students will have the opportunity for four days a week in-person instruction the remainder of the school year. The district plans to keep twice-a-week hybrid instruction for seventh- and eight-graders at the middle school level, and sophomores through seniors at the high school level. 

Jim Gray, the district’s director of teaching and learning for high schools, said the district settled on prioritizing expanding in-person learning to transition grades at the secondary level — sixth and ninth graders — who are new to their buildings. He also added the biggest obstacle for expanding reopening is how different buildings have different space availability, especially when it comes to 6 feet of space in common areas. Students will have meals in gyms or other larger commons area spaces. That could include using outdoor spaces  

“Some of the buildings at this point, they now they have more capacity, but not enough capacity for all kids,” he said.

However, district leaders said that students across all grade levels who are identified by teachers and other building leaders as high-risk, including students needing extra social and emotional support, English Language Learners and students receiving other special services, will have four days per week at school.

Wednesdays remain all-remote learning days. 

“Teacher voice will be essential there,” Gray said. “They know who is falling through the crack. … It’ll take time to prioritize kids, communicate with families and get them ready.”

High school seniors struggling in the current hybrid model also will be a priority, Gray said. 

Next week, Battle Ground Public Schools, the county’s third-largest district, welcomes all students back for full-day, five-a-day-a week in-person instruction. The move comes after Gov. Jay Inslee announced all K-12 schools statewide can reduce COVID-19 physical distancing to 3 feet in classrooms.