First week of school wraps up as WA students, teachers face many challenges

Teachers, students and parents in Washington started navigating school from home this week and many challenges popped up along the way.

The Kennewick School District posted online Friday about students and teachers facing connection issues due to server capacity. On Facebook the district wrote “We apologize for any technology issues you may be experiencing connecting to school applications. We exceeded the capacity of our servers this morning that are handling the traffic for staff and student laptops.”

**TECHNOLOGY ISSUES**We apologize for any technology issues you may be experiencing connecting to school applications….

Posted by Kennewick School District on Friday, September 4, 2020

Larry Delaney, President of the Washington Education Association, said educators are facing undeniable struggles across the state but he expects school districts to be creative with their resources.

“Districts are going to have to look at ways to fill the gap,” Delaney said, “We’ve got just shy of 300 school districts and essentially that means there’s 300 different variations of a plan for returning to teaching and learning. Some districts really have this dialed in and they’ve got a great plan in place. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have to constantly reevaluate. I’ve had conversations with educators who are concerned that the first day wasn’t perfect or the second day wasn’t perfect, but, you know, we’re going to have to figure these things out as we go along,”

Delaney expects many adjustments to be made throughout the fall, especially details that are specific to each area. Rural areas around the state may not have proper broadband connection and Delaney said districts should be prepared to hand-deliver and pick-up assignments from households.

There are some community members across the state asking for students to go back to in-person learning because of the issues they are facing at home. School districts plan to evaluate their online learning models at the end of September to consider adding hybrid learning or fully in-person learning, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that’s not an option yet.

“We want to get back into the classroom as soon as possible. Parents, students, everyone wants to be back in the classroom as soon as possible. Families and communities can help us by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and following the guidelines from the department of health and county health agencies.”

Delaney said a big concern for educators is an inconsistent school schedule because people want kids in school before it’s safe to do so.

“Even though there’s a lot of pressure building in the community to get the schools open and get kids back in the school building, we really need to ensure that that they’re as safe as possible. So we don’t get in that back and forth, back and forth of a schedule,” he said.

In the meantime, the community will have to work together even though there will be some challenges along the way.

“I have not talked to any educator, any school district administrator, any school board member who really doesn’t want what’s best for students in their communities,” Delaney said, “Educators across the state, they’re exactly in the same situation. They want what’s best for students in this crazy world that we’re living in right now. So some patience and grace will certainly go a long way.”