The Blaine school district welcomed a cohort of 50 students into the buildings on September 21 and has plans to open buildings to more students October 12.
Blaine school district superintendent Christopher Granger said his favorite part of the day was seeing the four buses arrive to campus bringing students.
“Although you can’t see under the mask, you can read nonverbal body languages,” he said. “It felt like a great first step in the right direction.”
In the phase 2 plan, the district opened its doors to students most at risk of losing an equitable education during remote learning – students in life skills and preschoolers. Granger said the district hopes to phase kindergarteners in mid-October if Covid-19 cases remain low in the district. About 70 kindergarteners will be phased in to the building but they will learn in a hybrid model, alternating in groups every week between in-person classes and remote learning.
As of September 23, Blaine had 28 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the two-week period between September 6 and September 19, or five total cases during that period. (Ed. Note: The county health department breaks down cases geographically by individual school district boundaries. This figure does not refer to cases in schools themselves.) The district was the second lowest in the county after Meridian school district, which had a rate of 9 cases per 100,000 people. At this rate, Blaine is classified as “moderate” in Washington state’s Department of Health recommendations for phasing students into the classroom. This allows in-person learning for elementary school students and over time, if Covid-19 does not spread in schools, districts with “moderate” transmission rates can allow middle and high school students to attend hybrid classes in the buildings.
Granger said it’s important for the community to help keep Covid-19 infection rates down in Blaine to allow the school district to continue opening schools.
“We continue to remind people to do the right thing to follow safety protocol,” Granger said. “It’s important the larger community commits to that. It will allow us to move forward.”