Othello to start on-campus instruction Nov. 3

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | October 16, 2020 1:00 AM

By CHERYL SCHWEIZER

Staff Writer

OTHELLO — Some Othello students will begin limited on-campus instruction Nov. 3.

Othello School District officials announced Oct. 7 that kindergarten through third grade will be the first group allowed back on campus. Kids will be at school half-time, and will continue with online instruction the remainder of the time.

The Othello School Board voted unanimously to approve a plan for on-campus instruction half time at a special meeting Oct. 6. Board members voted 3-2 at the Sept. 28 meeting to ask for a phased reopening plan.

Fourth through sixth grades are scheduled to return to school Nov. 30. Seventh grade would return to school Jan. 4, and eighth-graders, Othello High School and Desert Oasis High School students would return Jan. 25.

Families will have the option of all-online instruction, but district Superintendent Chris Hurst said the method of online instruction will be changing. District officials will be talking with families about the changes, Hurst said.

Director of communications Ed Petersen said students will be split into morning and afternoon sessions. Recorded online instruction will be available when kids aren’t in school.

Administrators and staff from each school have started contacting families to determine if they plan to return to school or stay online, Petersen said.

Social distancing rules will be in place, said Pete Perez, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, and parents will be required to fill out a form each day confirming that their children do not show coronavirus symptoms.

Perez said kids will not be allowed in school without the daily wellness checks.

Schools were closed in March as part of the effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak and remained closed for the rest of the school year. Othello district officials originally planned to start the 2020-21 school year with half-time instruction. But they switched to all-online classes after the number of reported coronavirus cases in Othello started to climb in July and August.

District officials haven’t determined when full-time classes will resume, if they resume at all, in the 2020-21 school year. Hurst said that will depend on the status of the coronavirus outbreak.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.