State orders schools to keep teaching

Through all the changes in the academic year, directives from state leaders and the mayhem created by a worldwide health scare, all those Sequim students barred from returning to classrooms get a chance of a bit of normalcy this week. It is, after all, spring break.

After that? To be determined.

Despite shutting down school operations on March 16, Sequim youths — along with pupils across the state — are expected to be pursuing their studies, as mandated by Washington state education leaders at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

OSPI announced on March 23 that it is requiring school districts to provide some sort of educational instruction for its students by March 30.

“Although schools are closed and are not providing traditional in-person instruction, education must continue,” Chris Reykdal, Washington schools’ Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a prepared statement on March 23.

“Further guidance will be grounded in compassion, communication, and common sense; rather than the traditional compliance measures we are all familiar with in our education community.”

In Sequim, how that takes shape is still a bit in flux, said superintendent Dr. Robert Clark.

While students are urged to treat this week (March 30-April 3) as intended, a break from studies, students will be expected to be back to studies the following week.

“Very little is happening this week (for students); we’ve articulated that to the parents,” Clark said.

“We have work for our students both in packets and online,” he said.

For students in elementary (grades K-5) and middle school (grades 6-8) that means mostly paper packets, while it’s a blend of online curriculum and packets for high school students (grades 9-12). Students in upper grades who do not have access to Wi-Fi or computers, he said, were given packets to work through.

“We do not have enough devices to go one-on-one with our kids,” he said.

“We’re trying to figure out how many of our kids don’t have that access and see what our inventory is.”

Staff will be working on that this week in preparation for a district-wide approach for educational services for the week of April 8-12.

Sequim schools closed more than two weeks ago with the tentative return date to classrooms of April 27. But following President Trump’s extension of social distancing guidelines through April 30, Clark said that date may not be realistic.

And while he said he hasn’t heard of it specifically mentioned by other school leaders, Clark said the prospect of students not returning to the classrooms this school year is being alluded to.

Clark said that most Washington schools are on spring break this week or next, and that he’d expect a decision from state school leaders about this academic year by the end of next week.

“Once you start getting into May, you’re almost saying, ‘Is it worthwhile to come back?’ Once you start going six weeks, five weeks (until school ends), I don’t know if it’s worthwhile.”

As for the students, they are expected to pursue their studies and do their work rather than treat time outside the classroom as a long break, Clark said.

“I worry about that in grades 9 through 11,” he said. “I think the seniors on track to graduate are more worried about grade-point-averages than finishing classes.

“We’ve been monitoring the seniors very closely.”

Some state requirements for graduation may be overlooked this spring, Clark said.

“We’re probably going to a level of leniency that doesn’t exist (normally),” he said.

In the meantime, staffers are busy either teaching or volunteering at the district’s central kitchen, at the Boys & Girls Club or along with food service workers from Sodexo helping deliver breakfast and lunch meals to students across the district.

Clark said he is hearing from principals that staff are mostly staying positive, with the caveat that “the concern, obviously, is that there have to be some families that are really struggling.”

Board meetings

Sequim School District board meeting have been moved to the second and fourth Mondays of each month (April 13, 27), Clark said. Most board members will attend meetings remotely, he said.

See for meeting agendas, minutes and more.

Meals for students

Up and running, the Sequim School District’s food program is continuing to deliver food for all student-age youths (0-18) within the district boundaries.

In addition to the drop-in service available at Greywolf Elementary School (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m, front entrance) and Sequim Middle School (11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., side entrance), buses run meal delivery routes through the community.

Meals include breakfast and lunch for each youth, Monday-Friday, through at least April 24.

No forms or registration are required.

Those picking up meals are encouraged to arrive early as buses will be at each location for 10 minutes, and to practice social distancing while waiting for assistance.

The schedule includes:

Skyridge Golf Course 9:10 a.m.

7 Cedars Casino parking lot 9:15 a.m.

Robin Hill Park 9:15 a.m.

North Barr Road soccer field 9:20 a.m.

West Nelson Road/Old Olympic Highway 9:25 a.m.

Sherburne, Atterberry roads 9:30 a.m.

Agnew Grocery 9:35 a.m.

Critter Country 9:40 a.m.

Hogback Road, Cays gravel area 9:40 a.m.

R Corner grocery store 9:50 a.m.

Gravel area at Fish Hatchery Road 9:50 a.m.

Voice of America entrance 9:55 a.m.

Conestoga RV transit stop 10:00 a.m.

Fuel station, bottom of Taylor Cut-Off Road 10:05 a.m.

East end of John Wayne Marina parking lot 10:10 a.m.

Ridgeview Drive/Ridge Place 10:10 a.m.

O’Brien Road transit stop 10:15 a.m.

Independence Drive 10:25 a.m.

Martha Lane gravel area 10:25 a.m.

Sequim Little League fields 10:25 a.m.

Blue Mountain transfer station 10:33 a.m.

Dungeness Meadows 10:40 a.m.

House Road/Cottonwood Lane 10:45 a.m.

Many Feathers/Woodcock Road 10:50 a.m.

Old Dungeness School House 11:05 a.m.

Note: The school district coordinates with the Sequim Boys & Girls Club’s food program, available from noon-1 p.m. at Mountain View Court Apartments, as well as at the Elk Creek Apartments, Seabreeze Apartments and at the Sequim clubhouse itself, 400 W. Fir St.