Registration opened Monday for Anacortes School District families, asking them to choose between an all-at-home model of learning or a hybrid model that will mean students will start attending school in-person a few days a week once it’s safe to do so.
What those families decide will drive many of the decisions coming in the next few weeks as the district prepares to kick off the school year Sept. 14, Superintendent Justin Irish said.
to do so, he said.
“Our goal is to get to in-person instruction as fast as we can,” he said.
Child care has been a big issue for many families, Irish said. The district is not going to be providing child care itself, but is working with community partners to try to make sure child care is available to those families that need it.
“We want to provide as much access and support that we can,” he said.
That means, in some cases, making more room, he said.
District staff announced last week that kindergarten students will not have classes at Whitney Early Childhood Education Center. That’s based on lower enrollment, financial constraints and space needs, according to the district.
The four kindergarten teachers who have traditionally been at Whitney will be split up among the other elementary schools in the district, Irish said.
For families that opt for the hybrid model, early learners will be among the first students to move back to an in-person education. Students in kindergarten have a greater need for in-person learning that those in higher grades, Irish said.
“We are going to start with our earliest learners,” he said.
So, when those students come back, they will be in-person at one of the three elementary schools, instead of at Whitney.
All elementary school students, including kindergartners, should be receiving their school assignments by the end of the month and their teacher assignments in the first week of September.
The district has shared plans for its curriculum with families and with the Board of Directors over the past few weeks, laying out the differences between the ASD@Home program, which is a parent-led homeschool model with support and resources available from the district, and a hybrid model, which is more teacher-led and follows a more set schedule.
Both models will be graded, with attendance mandatory, district staff told both parents and board members last week.
No matter what option is chosen, students will not be spending all their time on the computer, district Director of Teaching and Learning Angie Miller said.
Roughly 60% of learning will be on the computer and working with teachers, she said. The other 40% will be either pencil-and-paper work or project-based learning, she said.
The exact percentages will be set by grade level as the final plans for school come together and as teachers go through training in the next few weeks before school begins.
All students will still meet the number of school hours required by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Miller said.
The district will continue to run its developmental preschool program at Whitney. It is also leasing out space to the Skagit Valley Family YMCA for its child care program.
The YMCA is looking at adding more classrooms and bringing in more children as the need for child care continues to grow, Irish said.
The district is also working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Skagit County.
That organization will use its own Anacortes facility until it’s at capacity, and the district is looking at its own spaces to see if it can give some to the Boys and Girls Clubs so it can provide more child care.
The issue then becomes what the district will do when it needs that space when in-person education is allowed.
Some students, such as those with special needs, will be starting the year in-person at Anacortes schools.
Those students will be expected to follow safety protocols,
For more details on the district’s education models and more information on registration, visit asd103.org.
Irish said he is hoping most families fill out their preferences by today, because the district can’t make some of its decisions until it has those numbers.
“We realize this is a huge burden on families,” he said. “We are doing everything we can to provide as many supports as possible.”
The district is working with area organizations to find solutions for child care needs and is readying its buildings for what’s happening now and what is expected in the coming months, he said. The staff is committed to bringing back students as soon as it’s safe