Richland School District works to meet deadline for Fall 2020 plan as new superintendent withdraws

File: Back to School

RICHLAND, Wash. — As local school districts try and figure out how to safely return to the classroom in the fall – amidst a pandemic – the Richland School District has now had another obstacle thrown at them.

On Friday, the incoming superintendent, Mark Davidson, announced he would withdraw his acceptance of the position.

Mark Davidson announced he will withdraw his acceptance of the RSD superintendent position.

Davidson, who was chosen in March, was the second replacement for current superintendent Rick Schulte. Schulte plans to retire June 30, and Davidson was going to take over for the 2020-2021 school year.

The first replacement choice for Schulte, Nicole Mactavish, agreed to end her contract in June of last year and accept a settlement, following tensions over possible budget cuts to the special education program.

Davidson said his decision to withdraw was due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty it presents. He will remain at his current school district in Alberta, Canada.

In a statement the Richland School District said in part, “The Board wants to assure families, students and staff that its first priority is opening schools in the fall and that board members will be evaluating options for the superintendent position over the next several weeks. The Board is also very confident in district staff and have full faith and confidence in their ability to close school for the summer and provide solid plans for opening school next year.”

There are six possible scenarios the district is currently looking at:

  • Normal Operations – Students attend school and other student activities as they would in a typical school year with additional cleaning and protective measures.
  • Alternating Days – Students attending for full days of learning at school alternating with full days of learning at home.
  • Half Days – Students attending for half days at-school and then learning at home half-days.
  • Divide Subjects – Some specific subjects offered at-school and other subjects offered at home.
  • Divide Grades – K-3 students attend classes at school while older students in grades 4-12 learn from home.
  • Full-Time Distance Learning – All students participate in instruction at home through distance learning full-time in case school buildings remain closed or are closed after the school year begins.

The district has formed a “Return to School Committee” that has been reviewing input from teachers, staff and the community. They intend on having some sort of plan for the fall by June 30.

Additionally, a state workgroup – made up of over 100 education leaders around Washington – is looking at health data and other relevant factors. They plan to release guidelines for schools in Washington state sometime this week.