Fall Reopening Plan

  • Each week, our district works directly with Island County Public Health (ICPH) to evaluate the metrics used for determining the next steps of our reopening plan.  From the start of the school year, our phased plan was supported by Island County Public Health and union groups. Our district was the largest in Western Washington bring students back to campus to start the school year. We have confidence in our ability to safely and gradually welcome other students back to school part-time, where we know they so desperately need to be. 


    We have displayed our process of slowly moving toward more in-person instruction through a six-phase model. According to specific school reopening guidance and metrics released by DoH, we are in the “medium risk” range. Community conditions allowed us to start the school year in PHASE 2.  On Oct. 12, we moved to Phase 3.  Current conditions had delayed our progress to phase 4.  We will evaluate our metrics in the coming weeks and provide updates to families closer to Dec. 8. 

    Opening Plan


Start of the 2020-21 School Year



    Per DoH guidance and our plan, grades PK-4 will be on a Hybrid Rotation with two days a week of in-person instruction and three days of distance learning. If community conditions improve, in eight weeks, we may be able to transition to four days a week of in-person instruction for PK-4 (Phase 4).


    We plan to begin with Distance Plus (see description below) in grades 5-12 with limited in-person instruction for small groups. DoH guidance does not recommend we start with a Hybrid Rotation for secondary and instead suggests we transition to it over time (Phases 3, 4, and 5). We can gradually move grade levels to a Hybrid Rotation (see description below) if community conditions remain roughly the same or improve and reach specific targets. This document provides the detailed metrics we will use


    A Hybrid Rotation includes two days of in-person learning and three days of distance learning. Students are split into two groups so only half of the students are in school or class at any given time. Here is what that looks like for all levels:

    Hybrid Graphic


    It’s clear that choice is essential. About 25% of our families have asked for distance learning and/or homeschool options even as we have students returning to in-person learning. Families uncomfortable with the state’s reopening requirements or uncomfortable with the chance there could be a positive case in their child’s classroom/school will want to choose one of our many alternatives. As a result, regardless of our phase or model, we will continuously offer:

    Distance Plus

    Distance Plus (PK-12): A vastly improved, mostly distance education model taught by our staff with our curriculum offers limited on-site services for some students, daily attendance, a set schedule, and both synchronous learning (online with the teacher, like Google Meet) and asynchronous learning (online at different times than the teacher).

    Virtual Academy Logo

    Oak Harbor Virtual Academy (K-12): A flexible full-featured online-only model with all asynchronous learning (online at different times than the teacher), using different curriculum and staff, a schedule you set as a family, and requiring additional parent support to be effective.


    HomeConnection (K-12): A unique school for families that want a supported homeschool model with access to district resources and select on-site or virtual classes. 


    The state uses an average of our county’s positive cases per 100k as the metric for reopening schools. Every four weeks, our community’s data and disease conditions will determine whether or not we (1) move to the next phase in our plan, (2) need to wait another four weeks, or must (3) return to Distance Plus if conditions get markedly worse. We’re all in this together. How well our community does at reducing the spread of the disease will determine how quickly we increase the amount of in-person instruction. This document provides the detailed metrics we will use


    There are many components of reopening that are mandated by the state. These mandates include 6-foot spacing between desks, face coverings for students and staff, hand sanitizing, daily health screenings, rigorous cleaning, the grouping of students, and more. We’ll have more to share about all of these details in the coming weeks.  


    We understand that this plan will be a hardship for many families. While we are offering more in-person opportunities than any other district in our area, we know it still leaves many unmet childcare needs. We will be working with our local partners to see what support can be put in place. 


    Rest assured that this is not a decision that was taken lightly. During the past several weeks, we poured over thousands of survey responses, collaborated with our employee groups, studied the issue with our School Board, reviewed new guidance from the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and partnered with our friends at Island County Public Health to make an informed decision. 


    After tonight’s board meeting, we will have more information for you and will be asking you to let us know which option you prefer for your child so we can begin creating schedules for the start of the school year. Some of the stories you’ve shared about the impact on your children being away from school are truly heartbreaking, and our commitment is to do much better for them moving forward, both in-person and online.