Local teacher reacts to KSD’s decision to return for hybrid learning

KENNEWICK, Wash. — One local teacher said she is “very nervous” after the Kennewick School District’s board voted Wednesday night to return to hybrid learning.

According to KSD’s website, middle school students can return starting Jan. 25th and high schoolers can return starting Feb. 2nd. This decision came after new recommendations from the Benton Franklin Health District.

Laura McLeod, an English teacher with the district, said she is unsure of the health risks that returning could pose to high risk teachers and staff.

“I think the biggest issue is people are nervous about these risks, especially our teachers that are high risk who don’t have any other option,” McLeod said.

Students and their families can decide if they want to continue remote learning, return to an A and B cohort in-person schedule or enroll in the Online Learning Academy, which is completely independent.

But McLeod said all of these choices can actually make it harder for teachers, who now have to manage everyone’s preferences.

“Hybrid is a lot of obstacles with planning because our kids are split up,” McLeod said. “It’s just a lot of work trying to plan everything so that the kids at home are getting the same thing the kids at school are getting.”

Having all of the split options also means that teachers like McLeod don’t have as much time to prep for classes or even grade work because they are attending meetings, tutoring over Zoom and checking in with other online students.

“I wish that we could’ve all worked together to figure out a better solution,” McLeod said.

McLeod added that she doesn’t view the board’s decision as a “win” or a “loss” because it’s all about the students.

“I worry that some people think, yay, we won, like it’s a competition thing. But the thing is that all teachers I know, whether we agree or not, we all want to see our kids because we care about our students and want the best for them,” McLeod said.

However, McLeod said the guidance from BFHD and the school district has been somewhat unclear regarding COVID-19 safety and protocol. She said the children in her class will wear masks correctly and she will social distance, but she “can only control what I do in my classroom.”

“I feel confused still. I think that’s one of the biggest disappointments is that after 10 months, there’s a plan but there’s still so many questions that teachers have,” McLeod said. “When can they take a break from the mask and are they even allowed to? Can they have water? I would just like some more guidance.”

According to KSD’s coronavirus report card, there have been 213 reported cases since September 2020.