PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Full-time in-person learning is an option for every student in Washington state but Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver knows that not every family is comfortable sending their student back quite yet.
Superintendent Mike Merlino said students will be given the same opportunities for success regardless of whether they return to the building this year or opt to stay online.
Merlino said online learning options will continue to be provided at Evergreen Public Schools this upcoming year. But he added that the distance learning option outlined by the state for school districts to provide came very later and didn’t look like the remote option they’ve had in place for the last 15 months. Merlino said Evergreen Public Schools’ online program will evolve to meet state standards.
“We’re going to work throughout the year to create an option that more fits with the state’s guidelines, that has more direct contact time than what was offered last year,” he said.
Options exist for kids and their families in the meantime. Students in grades K-8 can enroll in “Home Choice Academy” while high school students can choose Legacy High School by utilizing their online option to receive a diploma.
But the adjustment back to full-time, in-person learning for kids coming back to the classroom will be difficult. Making sure they can pick up learning where they left off is a big concern for educators.
Merlino said they’re doing what they can to assess where kids are at academically to give them their best chance at success this year.
Evergreen Public Schools has created a more robust summer learning program, which officials say reached more than 1,000 students. The program was designed to help kids in transitionary grades like moving between fifth and sixth grades and 8th and ninth grades.
Merlino said they’ve also hired additional staff members to keep class sizes smaller and give students more one-on-one attention.
“A lot of what we’re doing now is trying to re-establish stability for students who have been away for as long as they’ve been away, making them feel comfortable, the connection back with the students they’ve gone to school with, the staff, the routine of being back in school,” Merlino said.
The school district has also taken all the safety measures to ensure students are physically distanced in the classroom.