Coupeville School District approves reopening plan

Some students could be back in class on Feb. 1.

Kids will begin returning to Coupeville classrooms starting as soon as next week.

The Coupeville School Board approved a plan Monday night that calls for the phased return of students to school in person.

Target dates in the plan are subject to change if schools and the health system are not meeting the checklist criteria found on the state Department of Health’s updated guidance for the school year.

Under the plan, kindergarteners, special needs students and those struggling most with online learning will return Jan. 19. These students were on campus before all in-person classes ceased at the end of November.

Starting Feb. 1, kindergarten through second grade will begin a hybrid model of coming to school four days a week for two and a half hours. One day out of the week will be spent on remote learning. Families and students may choose fully remote learning.

Third through fifth grade will come back Feb. 22. Middle school in-person learning is slated to return March 8. High schoolers are scheduled to return March 15.

Parents who spoke during the special meeting Monday night were concerned about their students’ social and emotional wellbeing. They advocated for the return of students to school.

Representatives from the teachers’ unions, however, expressed concern for the safety of educators and pointed out that some staff members won’t qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine until April.

Coupeville Superintendent Steve King referred to current scientific research, pointing out that proper mitigation efforts will do a lot to stop the spread of the virus in schools.

“I think our students have sacrificed enough,” he said.

Board Member Sherry Phay extensively questioned the school’s plan, asking about adequate testing and the district’s budget, among other things.

King responded that state Labor and Industries and Island County Public Health approved the reopening plan. The school district will also be adopting safety guidance from the state Department of Health.

The other school board members said they were supportive of the reopening plan.

In the end, the Coupeville School District’s new plan was approved by the school board in a 4-1 vote, with Phay voting against it.