South Whidbey students returning to school next week

First and third graders will return to school Feb. 22 and others will be phased back in March.

COVID-19 metrics trending downward for Island County means students enrolled in the South Whidbey School District will be returning to in-person classes soon.

Superintendent Jo Moccia presented a new reopening plan at the school board’s workshop meeting last week.

The county’s rate per thousand cases over a two-week span has been steadily decreasing, which Moccia indicated is a good sign that schools should be able to reopen safely.

From Jan. 24 to Feb. 6, there were 101.39 cases per 100,000 in Island County, putting disease activity level in the “moderate” range. The state Department of Health recommends phasing in in-person learning at the moderate range.

The school district will be adopting a face-to-face hybrid model which will allow for some time spent in the classroom and some time spent at home distance learning.

First and third graders will return to school Feb. 22.

If the county’s metrics are continuing to be met, second grade will come back March 1 and grades 4-6 will return March 8. Middle school and high school students will be the last to come back, on March 15.

As always, families have the option to continue remote learning.

If the county metrics move out of the moderate range into the “high” range, reopening will be paused and those who have returned will continue.

Some teachers, Moccia reported during the meeting, might be taking a leave of absence during this time.

During a previous school board meeting, she cited concerns from staff members who said they would not be comfortable returning to teaching without receiving a vaccination first.