Orcas Island School District safe return to school update

  • Mon Jul 27th, 2020 11:49am
  • Life

Submitted by Eric Webb, Orcas Island School District Superintendent.

You may recall, that the OISD Safe Return to School Steering Committee was formed to brainstorm authentic learning opportunities while placing the health and safety of our students, their families, OISD staff, and our greater Orcas Island community first in these unprecedented times.

John Fleming – Board Chair

Kate Long – Parent

Anne Ford McGrath – OEA President

Brian Wright – President PSE

Michele Rodriguez – President PTSA

Janet Brownell – Orcas Education Foundation President

Tom Murphy – OISD Leadership Coach

Eric Webb – Superintendent

Work groups of parents, staff, and community members then came together at the request of the steering committee to research instructional models and schedules with an emphasis on elementary children participating in in-person instruction on campus.

Draft models and schedules were compiled and presented to the OISD Safe Return to School Steering Committee on Friday, July 17. The approved models were shared with San Juan County Health Officer, Dr. Frank James the following day for his review.

As promised, we have included in this letter an overview of the instructional schedules for a possible On-Campus/In-Person fall start based on OSPI guidance, San Juan County Health and Community Services recommendations, family survey results, staff feedback, parent and staff work group research, and the OISD Safe Return to School Steering Committee.

Also included is information on a Distance Learning Instructional Model.

OISD has not yet determined which of the two models will be in place at the start of school in September, on-campus/in-person or distance learning. We are in constant contact with San Juan County Health & Community Services, OSPI, ESD 189, and surrounding districts as safety conditions and health projections continue to change almost daily.

The instructional model OISD elects to implement in September will be determined by OISD Superintendent Webb and the OISD Board of Directors based on consultation with San Juan County Health Officer, Dr. Frank James.

On-campus/In-person instructional model

Elementary Schedule

The elementary schedule consists of two cohort groups per grade. Below is sample schedule of one grade level:

Cohort #1

“A” days – Mondays and Tuesdays

Students start the week with the certified teacher.

“B” days – Wednesdays and Thursdays

Students will receive instructional support from the teacher’s paraeducator partner, based on the certificated teacher’s lessons.

“C” day – Fridays

Students will spend the morning in an outdoor setting and attend PE, Music, and Art classes in the afternoon.

Students of Cohort #2 of the same grade will follow the same schedule, although in reverse, i.e., Cohort #2 will begin the week with the paraeducator partner on Mondays & Tuesdays and spend Friday afternoons at Camp Orkila.

Parents may select the number of days their child will be on campus:

“A” or “B” days only (two days)

“A” days plus “C” (three days)

“A”, “B”, & “C” days (all five days)

Please note that students will be provided with teacher-directed projects and coursework to be completed online on the days they are not on campus.

Secondary Schedule

The secondary schedule is comprised of two cohorts as well, but by grade:

Cohort #1 (grades 8, 11, & 12 ) and Cohort #2 (grades 7, 9, & 10 )

Mondays & Tuesdays

Cohort #1 will attend in-person instruction on campus.

Cohort #2 will participate in teacher-directed activities online.


All students will be off campus to participate in teacher-directed activities online.

Teachers will hold office hours, support small group instruction online, and attend professional development activities.

The Facilities Department will conduct a deep cleaning of the campus.

Thursdays & Fridays

Cohort #2 will attend in-person instruction on campus.

Cohort #1 will work on teacher-directed activities online.

Distance learning

The Distance Learning Instructional Model dubbed “Continuous Learning 2.0” by OSPI is an enhanced version of the distance learning model implemented this last March through June. This model is currently being modified and updated using input from surveys of families and staff in the event OISD must move to exclusive distance learning for the safety of our students and staff. The platform of the distance learning model will continue to be Google Suite. Teachers will utilize Classroom, Meets, and a variety of other programs to enhance instruction and facilitate the exchange of assignments.

New for the 2020-21 distance learning model will be daily attendance as mandated by OSPI. Also new for the 2020-21 distance learning model for OISD students will be weekly activities in outdoor settings to safely engage our students in socialization outdoors while promoting overall social-emotional health!


OISD will continue to work to remove challenges and barriers to student learning this next year whether we implement the on-campus/in-person instructional model or the distance learning model. The district will continue to provide meals to all of our students, connectivity will continue to be addressed with the support of Rock Island and OISD, and a Student Resource Center will be set up in the cafeteria for students who continue to have ongoing difficulty accessing the internet from home.

For more information

You will receive an email from your child’s building principal this next week with additional details regarding instructional scheduling and an invitation to Zoom Question & Answer sessions.

The District will host a Virtual Town Hall Meeting Wednesday, Aug. 5 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., moderated by Lisa Byers. Questions will be accepted July 27-31 and can be submitted to Cathy Ferran at cferran@orcas.k12.wa.us.

I hope you will take part in one, or both, of these informational sessions. We know these times are trying, and we are thankful for your understanding and patience. No matter how we return to school, our utmost priority is to provide the best education in the safest environment for our students.