Hybrid Learning Dial

Dr. Amy Person is using a combination of many metrics
to make recommendations on school readiness.

The number 1 factor for getting kids back into school is the overall wellbeing of children. Schools provide safety and sustenance and are key to the long-term social and emotional health of kids. 
(CDC article on the importance of schools)

Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of health issued a report on in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic for K-12 on Aug. 5, 2020. It included a decision tree with metrics for local Health Officers and school administrators considering versions of in-person instruction. The Centers for Disease Control also has a color-coded table with Core Indicators and Secondary Indicators which can assist local health jurisdictions for recommendations to school administrators.

The decision tree notes, "The local health jurisdiction may further disaggregate these indicators, or use other data to guide recommendations for in-person learning."

And, "...school administrators are ultimately responsible to establish appropriate education services." 

Metrics/Indicators Being Used:

*Correct and consistent use of masks, social distancing to the largest extent possible, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfection, contact tracing in coordination with the health district.

Current Recommendation: Hybrid Learning

On September 14, Dr. Amy Person sent a letter to school administrators in Benton and Franklin Counties recommending local schools and districts begin planning for implementation of hybrid learning as early as October 1 for Benton County and North Franklin School District. Pasco School District and all other schools in Franklin County should plan for implementation on hybrid learning as early as October 15.

On October 13, Dr. Person sent an updated letter confirming her recommendation is still in effect. That letter is linked below.

Benton-Franklin Health District also released a statement, outlining how decisions will be made to reopen schools and monitor COVID-19 activity within schools. BFHD believes that schools play an invaluable role in the academic, physical, and social-emotional health of students We will continue to work with our school leaders and community to return students and staff to school as safely as possible.

Decision Based Off More Than Case Rate

Dr. Person's recommendation takes into account more than just the case rate for the counties. It is just one tool in our toolbox to assess the school districts' and communities' readiness for hybrid learning. Overall wellbeing consists of more than just physical health.

Alignment with State Guidance

Benton-Franklin Health District has been working closely with local schools to reopen safely. This includes adherence to the Reopening Washington Schools 2020: District Planning Guide, released by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) on June 22, 2020 and the Decision Tree for Provision of In-Person Learning released by Washington State Department of health on August 5, 2020. 

Current Washington State Department of Health guidance recommends resuming some in-person learning (hybrid model) when a community is detecting 25-75 cases per 100,000 people during a 14-day period, and expanding to a more full-time in-person learning model when the rate falls below 25 cases per 100,000 people during a 14-day period. 

The local health jurisdiction's Health Officer can then use other data to further make a decision process, which is what is outlined in the tables above.

We are closesly monitoring all indicators for both Benton and Franklin Counties and are in close communication with the schools on their health readiness. The schools will decide if they agree with the health recommendation and are then responsible for determining their own plan on how and when to bring children back in a way that is safe and provides the best education experience for their students and staff.

Next Steps

Each school (K-12) or school district will make their own decision on how to proceed with reopening plans and learning models. All schools are required to have a reopening plan. 

Families should work with their individual instructors, schools, and school districts on the plan that makes the most sense for them. The CDC has a 
tool to help parents and caregivers make decisions on what form of learning is best for their family.