OMAK. – In a normal school year teachers and administrators face constant challenges - this year has been exceptional.
Omak Superintendent David Porter has had his hands full as the superintendent for Omak School District.
“It was not what I was expecting my first year,” said Porter. “I miss getting to sit down with someone and visit them. Sadly I’ve had to do a lot of phone calls and Zooming.”
However one thing that doesn’t make him sad is getting to see his students back for face-to-face learning.
“We’re excited to get back to school,” Porter said. “Some students are doing remote and some doing face-to-face.”
Omak School district is currently on a hybrid type of model for the time being as students are on an A/B type of schedule.
“On Mondays and Tuesdays we have a group of students and on Thursdays and Fridays we have the remaining students,” Porter explained.
Wednesday is used as a thorough cleaning day throughout all four of the schools, which include one high school, one middle school and two elementary schools.
“Most of our students are back to face-to-face learning,” Porter said, but he’s not able to bring back the whole arsenal just yet. “I really want to get all our kids back and have them here, but because of the 6-foot social distancing, we can’t fit all our kids inside our classrooms or even in our hallways.”
Porter fears this will be an issue this upcoming fall as well.
Despite not being able to get all students back just yet, Porter has been very encouraged in many other areas.
“There’s been no kid-to-kid transmission,” he said. “As far as the kids being here face-to-face, it has been really successful. We’ve had no outbreaks between our kids.”
You could attribute a lot of their success of no outbreaks to the process of steps the school district taken through their screening process.
The screening process
The students at Omak schools follow a thorough process of steps everyday to ensure their safety.
· Kids have their temperature checked when they first get ready to get on the bus.
· Students are sitting kitty-corner from the other, so nobody is sitting right next to each other. At least six-feet between every child.
· For air circulation, windows are lowered on the busses and the heat is also going at the same time.
· When kids arrive at school and get off the bus, they go to the designated entrance where there’s a screening station.
· After the screening station, students are sent to their classrooms.
· Upon being in their classrooms, students are broken down in cohorts. (little groups of kids).
· Windows in the school are left open throughout as to allow for air circulation.
· Desks are spaced out in all classrooms at least six-feet.
· Meals are eaten in the classrooms.
“It’s great to see that, in spite of a pandemic, how resilient kids and families have been,” said Porter.
Towards the beginning of the school year Porter wasn’t quite sure how facemasks would go over.
“I was thinking one of our biggest challenges was going to be the facemasks, but it really hasn’t been,” Porter expressed with a sigh of relief. “Everybody has been doing great wearing their face masks. I was concerned that students would be reluctant and would be fighting that, but they’ve done a good job of following through with the expectations.”
One area where there was a challenge was having access to the internet for students.
“We were able to purchase hotspots for kids and for an entire year,” said Porter. “We gave out 130 hotspots to families. It’s been great to reach out and do what we can. So many families are in a tough spot.”
At this point, the school has provided all of the students with Ipads or Chromebooks, depending on their grade according to Porter.
But despite the challenges, Porter has remained hopeful. The kids have been resilient and his staff has gone above and beyond in facing the challenges, he said.