Pasco School Board votes to return for full-time, in-person education

Pasco School

PASCO, Wash. — It’s official: The Pasco School Board passed a 4-1 vote to bring elementary and middle school students back for full-time, in-person learning beginning in April. This motion is contingent on changes to state rules to align with guidance from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

The motion was introduced near the end of a three-hour-long meeting by board member Steve Christensen. It received immediate support from Scott Lehrman, who is the Vice President of the Pasco School Board.

Through this motion, the Pasco School Board plans to bring Elementary School students back for full-time, in-person guidance after their Spring Break on April 12. Pasco secondary schools are expected to follow a week later on April 19. The Pasco School Board hasn’t made a final determination regarding a return to in-person learning for high schools due to higher risk factors.

RELATED: All Washington students to soon have in-class hybrid option

“Anecdotally, we’ve heard teachers are — Some are very concerned with inconsistency, and I understand this is another transition. We’ve heard that some teachers want to be back in school full-time, so I sympathize with our teachers — Especially those who are concerned and feel like this is one more transition,” Christensen said. “This, I think, needs to be the last transition we make this year.”

Recently, the CDC changed its guidance on in-person learning, cutting the required distance between students in half from six feet to three feet. As a result, many states including Oregon and California followed shortly behind in adjusting their guidance.

The lone dissenting voter was Board Member Jesse Campos, who simply wants to make sure the return to in-person learning is done right after a year of tumultuous change for Pasco’s teachers and students.

RELATED: Oregon public schools must offer in-person learning option by these dates

“I just don’t want anybody to think that I do not want kids to go back to school — I do want kids to go back to school. The fact of the matter is that I think it’s going to put a heavy lift on the teachers.” Campos said. “I talked to many teachers and a lot of them say ‘You know, we only have 40+ days left. Why do we have to change it right now? Let’s plan an effective re-entry in September.'”

Superintendent Michelle Whitney had a similar mentality to Campos in wanting to find the right balance between getting students back into classrooms quickly and carefully. She noted concerns about state cohort rules, which could make a return to full-time, in-person learning more difficult for Pasco schools. Regardless, Superintendent Whitney welcomed the idea of letting Pasco School District employees know about looming changes as early as possible.

You can watch the full school board meeting by clicking here.

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