MENLO — The Willapa Valley School District is the first district in Pacific County to eye returning to in-person learning beginning next week. Students are expected to enter their respective classrooms on Jan. 6, roughly two months after all districts inside the county returned to remote learning during the week of Nov. 11.

“I am so very pleased to announce that Willapa Valley Schools will return to in-person instruction on Wednesday, Jan. 6,” Superintendent Nancy Morris said. “The Pacific County Health Department confirmed [on Dec. 28] that the current risk assessment data shows the county at 198.7/100K over 14 days. With the governor’s new guidelines for school openings, all students, preschool through grade 12, will return.”

She continued, “The guidelines are based on studies showing that covid infections have not spread in schools due to the strict protocols in place. I feel Willapa Valley will be able to continue our strict safety protocols as we had in place earlier this year when students were in school.”

According to Morris, preschool students and those in grades 6-12 will attend school via an A and B day model Monday through Thursday. Students in grades kindergarten-5 will attend school Monday through Thursday as well. All grades will participate in distance learning on Fridays.

The Raymond School District is expected to return to a hybrid learning model with a mixture of in-person and distance learning on Jan. 25. Just a few miles away from Raymond, the South Bend School District (SBSD) is eying a return to the classroom on Jan. 11, likely with a hybrid model as well.

“The good thing is that all Pacific County schools have been doing a hybrid in-person model since September, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving we were asked by the health department to go back to remote,” SBSD Superintendent Jon Tienhaara. “This gives all of us in Pacific County an advantage in being able to open back up safely, we’ve been doing it already pretty much all school year.”

He continued, “Speaking for South Bend, we have already been working within the governor’s ‘new’ guidelines and we have had zero cases of in-school transmission of the disease. This is a credit to our staff and students strictly adhering to the expectations.”

All three districts are expected to give families the choice to participate in in-person learning or remain with remote learning, whichever makes them more comfortable. All three districts had at least one student or staff member test positive for covid-19 earlier this school year.

The Ocean Beach School Board will discuss the issue on Jan. 6 and classes could resume as early as Jan. 11. Naselle-Grays River Valley is also eying a Jan. 11 resumption date, depending on the pandemic’s status is the next several days.

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