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All schools in the Ellensburg School District will be open for in-person education starting Monday. The district decided to use a staggered start system, meaning elementary schools started first, then Morgan Middle School and on Monday, Ellensburg High School.

EHS Principal Beau Snow is excited to finally have students in the building, although there will be some safety changes.

The most obvious change is the hybrid learning schedule. This is a schedule the district agreed upon weeks ago and is in place at all schools in the district. Students attending class in person will be split into two groups, “A” and “B”, and will attend class in person on alternating days. Students not attending in-person will be taking classes online. However, no students will be attending class in-person in Wednesdays, instead all classes will be online.

Like other schools in the district, EHS has made some physical changes to the layout of the building. Snow said students will notice social distance markings on the floor, and COVID-19 signs on the walls.

Students will also be required to show their completed health attestation, a questionnaire taken through Skyward that must be completed every day before arriving at school.

In the mornings, students will go straight to their first-period classrooms, unless getting breakfast. During a normal school year, students who arrive early will wait in a common area until the first bell.

The first bell is also later, due to changes in the bus schedule. Normally, class starts at 8:25 a.m. With the schedule changes, first bell is at 9:20 a.m. and classes are out at 3:50 p.m.

Classroom desks and tables have been spaced out to provide social distancing, and of course, everyone is required to wear a mask. Snow said students who refuse to wear a mask will not be allowed to attend class.

“We’ve undergone quite the transformation in terms of aesthetics,” Snow said. “There’s lots more marking and posters in terms of safety protocol that are put out by OSPI (Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction) and the Department of Health.”

Another change to the school is the hallway system. According to Snow, all main hallways are now one-way. He said a faculty member described the layout as a “NASCAR track,” with the building essentially being two rectangles on top of each other.

Around a third of the students attending EHS have opted to take all classes online through the Virtual Academy. These students will not be attending class in-person and are not a part of the hybrid schedule.

With the hybrid schedule and Virtual Academy, only about a third of the students enrolled in EHS will be in the building at one time. This is about 300 students, as there are 940 enrolled in the school.

In the event someone in the building tests positive for COVID-19, the school will take direction from the County Health Department and Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Larson.

There have already been two recorded cases at Valley View Elementary and one at Lincoln Elementary since opening up Oct. 5.


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