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Some students may be back in classrooms next month

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — More than a year after the discovery of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Washington state, school districts in Snohomish County are beginning to reopen their classrooms and bring some students back for in-person instruction. These decisions were made by surveying parents and staff, as well as following recommendations and guidelines provided by government health organizations.
The Snohomish School District might soon give Kindergarten through second grade the option for in-person classes, Monroe is working on its plans, and Everett has just brought back its first groups of students.
“The board and I truly want all kids to come back as soon as possible, but also as safe as possible” Kent Kultgen, superintendent for the Snohomish School District, said in a virtual town hall Jan. 7.
“As we take a look at offering a safe learning environment, not only for our students, but also for our staff … it’ll be a good thing and the kids will have a great time in their class and teachers will be able to build those relationships with each child.”
Some special education students were able to return last September, though the vast majority of students have been receiving instruction remotely. Snohomish School District is hopeful to have kindergarten through second grade students return to school next month.
“Those who choose to come back could come back starting in the time frame of Feb. 2,” Kristin Foley, a spokesperson for Snohomish School District, said. “There’s no requirement, we’ve given families the option. They can continue with their online remote instructions or they can make the choice to return to some in-person instruction.”
The Snohomish School District has plans to implement safety precautions for students, parents, and staff that have become standard practice during quarantine, such as social distancing, requiring facial coverings,
and an emphasis on handwashing.
“Before students arrive on campus there will be a station where parents will attest to their child’s health condition as well as their temperatures,” Foley said. “We follow all of the directives from OSPI, the Washington State Department of Health, and the Snohomish Health District.”
Monroe School District already has preschool, kindergarten, and special needs students receiving in-person instruction. 
“Negotiations with our Monroe Education Association labor partners are ongoing and productive as we address health and safety concerns,” said a statement from the Monroe School District provided by Tamara Krache, a spokesperson for the district. “We are hopeful that we will reach agreements soon around working conditions.”
The Monroe School District’s website also states that they will be looking to Snohomish County Health District and Washington State Department of Health for guidance.
Meanwhile, Everett School District began bringing back students last week. The first wave of students included those who require special services.
“We wanted to get this first group back in, the kids who are most in need of being in the building,” Kathy Reeves, a spokesperson for the Everett School District, said. “Then we are hoping every couple of weeks to bring in the next phase of students. The next phase will probably be (kindergarten to first grade) and a few other small groups. And then we’re really hoping, if it goes well, we’ll just keep adding every couple of weeks.”
Along with prioritizing the health of their community, Reeves also mentioned Everett’s commitment to timely and accurate information to parents and staff.
“Everything changes daily,” Reeves said. “One of the commitments we’re really trying to make is, first of all, we’ll give everybody two weeks notice before there’s a change in any status. But also, we want to make sure that we only communicate solid information that’s not going to change three days later. We really want to try to create stability as much as possible.”



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