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Winter break has come to an end, and Ellensburg School District students are returning to class utilizing the hybrid education model. This model has been keeping staff and students safe from the coronavirus, while still providing some in-person education.

The Ellensburg School District has not seen any confirmed cases of COVID-19 transferring between staff and students, and feels it is safe to resume in-person education. The district is also not going to test all students returning to in-person learning after winter break, although optional tests were available to staff on Monday.

Fully online learning will still be provided to students through the Virtual Academy. Extra help will continue to be provided on Wednesdays to students at risk academically.

In her monthly update for January, Superintendent Jinger Haberer gave two examples for why the current learning model could change.

1. The Kittitas County Health Officer contacts the superintendent and tells the superintendent that he recommends that the district close schools for in-person instruction.

2. The six-foot rule implemented by OSPI (Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) is lifted, and the district is allowed to safely move to a more flexible, three-to-six-foot distancing rule.

“Multiple families have contacted ESD and said that their students’ attitudes towards learning were positively impacted when they were able to go back to seeing their peers and ESD staff in-person,” Haberer said in December’s superintendent update.

While many students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, investigations have shown the victim caught the virus outside of the buildings. The hybrid education model has not been the cause of a single COVID case thus far. This is despite the county coronavirus infection rate being above the original recommended approval limit since the start of the hybrid model. The current rate sits at 466 infections per 100,000 people over the past two weeks.

“We are also very grateful for our team’s approach to implementing safety protocols like masking, six-foot distancing, attestations, and hand-washing, which have become daily routines for all staff and students,” Haberer stated in her update. “Students and staff have done a great job in following these safety measures, and we especially appreciate the thorough cleaning process that the custodians have demonstrated and their commitment to safety.”

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