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The Ellensburg School District will continue to use the hybrid learning model, despite Gov. Inslee’s announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions. The restrictions do not affect the schools’ decision to remain open in the hybrid model, so the decision is entirely up to the district.

The restrictions have limited the ways sports and indoor music practices are conducted. In a letter to parents and guardians, ESD stated it will work closely with coaches and teachers to “support them with the implementation of these new restrictions.”

Between Oct. 9 and Nov. 16, ESD has reported 16 cases of COVID-19. According to the district, these instances have all been the result of someone contracting the virus from outside the district, and there has been no outbreak or transfer of the virus in the schools.

The district’s decision to stay with the hybrid model seems to be going over well with most teachers. According to Donna Grassel, Ellensburg Education Association President and math teacher at Morgan Middle, most teachers prefer working in-person with students and “feel they are more effective when in hybrid mode.”

However, Grassel also said there are some teachers who are at high risk who are understandably nervous as the coronavirus case numbers rise.

As a whole, the Ellensburg School District is content with its current schedule and it’s unlikely there will be any shift back to fully online learning unless there is direct intervention by the Department of Health or the state.

“Please know that the health and safety of our staff and students remains our highest priority,” ESD stated in the letter. “We will continue to work closely with (Kittitas County Health Officer) Dr. (Mark) Larson on remaining safe and enforcing all health and safety guidelines.”

The district has counselors available for students and staff.

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