PUYALLUP, Wash. — Some students in the Puyallup School District will start returning to their classrooms this week. The district is giving families the option of in-person learning, as other districts roll back their plans.
“They are ready to come back and they know it will be different,” said Hope Ernst, a fourth-grade teacher at Maplewood Elementary.
Starting Tuesday, small groups of special education and developmental preschool students, as well as secondary McKinney Vento students, will return to a schedule of limited classroom time.
On Oct. 6, kindergarten and first-grade students can return to in-person instruction four days a week.
Second through sixth graders will have the option of two days of classroom time starting Oct. 13. The district said junior and senior high school students will have a classroom option no earlier than Nov. 3.
The district said kids can keep doing their lessons from home if families are not yet comfortable with in-person learning.
“They can then choose what works best for their family and their child,” said Sarah Gillispie, Puyallup School District director of communications.
Ernst will teach kids in small groups of no more than a dozen. The kids, masked, will sit six feet apart, at opposite ends of tables, and they will stay together throughout the day, she said.
“I think it’s a teachable moment,” Ernst said about the challenges of getting kids to adapt to the new rules. “They understand that we are a team in room 119.”
Anyone who enters a school building must fill out a health questionnaire. The district is asking parents to do this with their children each day they’re in the classroom.
Tacoma Public Schools canceled a plan to bring students back on Monday after the district said it received “clarified guidance” about face masks from the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
The district also said some staff needed to be fitted with N-95 masks.
A letter from Labor and Industries to the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Friday, said that there had been no change in school face mask requirements.
“To be clear, L&I has not issued new guidance or changed any guidance on facial coverings in school settings. L&I does not require all school employees to use N95 masks,” said the letter, written by L&I Director Joel Sacks.
For students who are ready to return to put on a backpack and mask and return to their Puyallup classrooms, there will be a desk waiting for them, the district said.
“We are confident that we've done our due diligence in working with state agencies to make sure that we're able to return students to in-person instruction as safely as possible,” Gillispie said.