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Back-to-school in Spokane, North Idaho: What your district's plan looks like

Some districts are allowing some grade levels to return to school buildings, while others have announced that all students can attend in-person classes daily.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Schools around the Inland Northwest are working on plans to allow students back into classrooms during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some districts are allowing some grade levels to return to school buildings, while others have announced that all students can attend in-person classes five days a week. 

Here’s a look at the latest announcements from local districts. 

Spokane Public Schools

Spokane Public Schools plans to phase its youngest learners back into the classroom on Oct. 19.

SPS students will attend school on an alternating schedule, in Group A or Group B, at the start of the process. School will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 2:25 p.m.

Information on the alternating schedule and the assignment of student groups will be provided next week, the district wrote online.

During their off days, the students will have facilitated activities. Those activities have not been designated yet.

After the initial alternating schedule, all kindergarten students will attend school every day.

Schools are working on cohorts and they will be announced soon.

Masks must be worn at recess. There will be structured mask breaks so the kids will be able to get fresh air outside. In regards to meals, they will be served in the classroom and supported by teachers.


Students in other grades will continue participating in virtual classes for now until health officials deem it safe for them to return to school buildings.

Central Valley School District 

Central Valley School District aid it will begin having kindergartens return to classrooms following an A/B approach on October 5-6 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:10 p.m., with full days starting on October 7. 

The district also said if a family picked a learning option that would keep their student(s) virtual for the full-year, but the family then felt comfortable enough to send their student back to in-person classes, officials would then work to get that student back in a classroom as quickly as possible.

CVSD also announced two options for meal distribution for students in the district. One option will allow a meal box to be ordered ahead of time containing five breakfasts and five lunches, with some items in bulk and some frozen meals. Families can also pick up all meals from one place, even if they have students in multiple schools.

Lakeland Joint School District

The Lakeland Joint School District Board of Trustees approved to start the year at the yellow level, meaning students attend classes in-person five days a week.

Students are released one hour early each day to give teachers time to prepare for the next day. 

Coeur d'Alene School District

While the Coeur d'Alene School District is currently operating in a hybrid model, students will attend in-person classes five days a week beginning Oct. 5. 

This comes after the district's Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday, Sept. 25 to switch from the orange (moderate) risk level, which calls for a hybrid model of virtual and in-person learning, to the yellow (minimal) risk level after reviewing data trends on COVID-19 cases in Kootenai County.  

Post Falls School District 

Post Falls School District voted to move the current phase it is operating in from Orange to Yellow Oct. 5. Students will resume 5 days of in-person learning on Oct. 12. 

Students will be required to wear face masks and will be socially distanced when possible. In a letter to parents, however, the district says that "social distancing is not possible in most of our classrooms, so students will be expected to wear masks during class as long as the Panhandle Health District mask mandate remains in place. 

Teachers will be giving students mask breaks throughout the day. 

Mead School District

The Mead School District approved a change to its academic calendar that moves the last day of school from June 16 to June 25. The dates were adjusted due to the district moving back the start of the school year to allow more time to prepare for coronavirus precautions.

Mead School District approved its learning plan for the upcoming year as follows:

  • In-person classes will resume for preschool and K-5
  • Hybrid learning model for Grades 6-12
  • Families that are uncomfortable returning to in-person learning can choose virtual learning

Freeman School District

Beginning Monday, Oct. 5, Freeman students in grades K-2 will move to a two-consecutive-days-per-week cohort model. Grades three through six can attend school in-person one day a week in a cohort model. 

Parents will be contacted and advised of their child’s assigned days.

Grades seven through 12 will continue under the current modified hybrid learning model outlined for Stage 3 of reopening. 

Nine Mile Falls School District

In a special meeting Monday, Oct. 5, the Nine Mile Falls School Board voted to allow all students pre-school to 12th grade to switch to a hybrid learning model.

Students will either attend school Monday and Tuesday in person or Thursday and Friday.  

Parents will receive more information for their child's school. 

Medical Lake School District

The Medical Lake School District began the year with distance learning. 

The district has designed two virtual learning options:

Option 1: Preschool-12th grade

School-paced virtual learning with a preference to transition to in-person when it is safe.

  • Led by MLSD teachers and allows students return to in-person learning when available.
  • Allows students to keep their same teachers from their school throughout the school year or grading period. 
  • Student care: In-school student support provided for students needing additional access-determined on a case-by-case basis.

Option 2: Kindergarten-12th grade

  • Allows students to work at their own pace to complete assignments over the course of the school year or grading period.
  • Students will be partnered with specialized Connect + MLSD teacher with virtual learning training as part of this virtual school community to help guide their learning.

East Valley School District

East Valley School District began the school year in a hybrid, in-person model on Sept. 14.  

According to a letter to parents from Superintendent Kelly Shea, most students are divided into two cohort groups, A and B. Group A attends school on Mondays and Tuesdays, while Group B attends on Thursday and Friday. 

When they are not in school, students are participating in virtual learning.  

There is a full distance learning program for parents who do not want to send their children back to school. 

West Valley School District

West Valley School District's board of directors unanimously approved a plan on Wednesday Sept. 23 to bring its youngest students back to the classroom in a Hybrid A/B model beginning on Thursday Oct. 8.  

The revised back-to-school plan provides for students to return to the classroom, one grade level at a time, in a Hybrid A/B model every two weeks provided COVID-19 infection rates stay within the approved range, WVSD wrote in a Facebook post.

The Board of Directors voted at a meeting on Aug. 17 to begin the school year 100% online.

Its reopening plan approved by the board details online learning for elementary, middle and high school students throughout West Valley Online Academy taught by West Valley teachers. 

The district will consider phasing in one grade level at a time for its elementary schools, beginning with the youngest students. 

In its reopening plan, the district promises to offer regular school hours and evening options, independent practice and skills development, small group learning, and individual support for students that will be phased in starting Sept. 21. 

There will also be onsite options for students with the greatest need for support, and virtual teacher office hours for families and students. 

Those students involved in early learning may be phased in to hybrid, onsite learning one to two days per week.

Deer Park School District

There are two learning options to chose from within the Deer Park School District:

Option 1: In-person learning on a split/rotating schedule

  • Students will be divided into two groups (Blue and Gold), attending school two days one week and three days the next.
  • Days when students aren't in class are still considered school days and each school will communicate learning expectations and structures for instructional support. 
  • Students in need of additional in-person service may have the ability to attend on a more normal four or five-day schedule.

Option 2: STAGS @Home Program

  • Deer Park teachers will be dedicated to providing a "robust and engaging" learning experience for students using proven remote learning.
  • Will offer teacher-led online experiences and activities as well as opportunities for more autonomous learning structures that allow students to access and complete assignments/tasks on a more flexible schedule.  

For more information on the decision, click here.

Cheney School District

The Cheney School District began the school year with virtual learning. 

The district shared photos of its conditional reopening plan, which includes six stages:

  1. Stage 1: 100% Distance Learning.
  2. Stage 2: 100% Distance Learning, with school buildings open to staff.
  3. Stage 3: Modified Hybrid Learning, with students "in the greatest need of additional support" taking part in some in-person instruction.
  4. Stage 4: Hybrid Learning, all students included in Stage 3 as well as some in Preschool through Fifth Grade attend school in-person part of the time. Grades six through 12 still on a distance learning model.
  5. Stage 5: Hybrid Learning. Kindergarten through Fifth Grade students and staff complete in-person instruction five days a week. Preschool students participate in-person with a set schedule. Grades six through 12 complete some instruction in-person.
  6. Stage 6: 100% In-person Learning. All students and staff carry out in-person instruction five days a week.

More can be found in the district's Facebook post.

Gonzaga Prep

Gonzaga Prep sent a notice to parents Tuesday, Aug. 18 to announce changes to its back-to-school plan. 

In the letter to parents, school leaders said they modified its previous plan due to "recent recommendations by the Spokane Regional Health District."

The new plan gives families the option of choosing either fully digital instruction or starting the year with in-person instruction in small groups, one day per week.

"This model was developed in consultation with the SRHD and will add robustness to existing health and safety measures, while supporting the school’s goal to incrementally expand future opportunities for in-person instruction," President Michael Dougherty wrote in the letter.  

The school will be sending detailed plans and answers to frequently asked questions by the end of the week. 

According to the letter, the plan adds resiliency to the existing health and safety measures by:

  • Decreasing the number of students on campus each day to a maximum of 25% of our student body, and reducing class sizes to an average of six students. 
  • Dividing each grade level into four cohorts, in order to decrease the potential exposure and/or spread of COVID, while minimizing the impact of any required quarantine measures. 
  • Enhancing the school’s ability to teach and enforce the required safety protocols, while developing a body of evidence that will support the school’s continued improvement.

The school is also offering a tuition rebate of 5% of families' tuition. The rebate is limited for part or all of the school year. It will be applied to tuition accounts on a quarterly basis if the school does not return to fully in-person instruction for that quarter. 

Riverside School District

Riverside School District said it wants to make a decision on possibly moving ahead in stages by Oct. 5.

The district has created a four-stage plan for the school year. Schools began the year in stage 2 in early September. 

Stage 2

  • All students from Stage 1
  • AB in-person P-5
  • ABCD in-person 6-12
  • Online for those who choose

Stage 3

  • In-person daily P-5
  • AB in person 6-12
  • Online for those who choose

Stage 4

  • In-person Daily P-12
  • Online for those who choose

Stage 2 involves in-person learning for P-5 students on a rotation schedule. Group A attends in-person on Monday and Tuesday and Group B will attend in person Thursday and Friday. Students complete teacher-guided work on their "off days."

Students in grades 6-12 attend in-person learning on a rotating schedule in Stage 2.  Group A will attend in person on Monday, Group B on Tuesday, Group C on Thursday, and Group D on Friday. Students will complete teacher-guided work on their "off days."

More information is available on the district website.

Garfield-Palouse School District

Garfield-Palouse Schools announced Thursday that elementary schools will open Sept. 8 for in-person instruction and middle and high schools will open with online learning on Sept. 2.

Elementary students must follow the following guidelines:

1. Cloth face covering/Masks will be worn in the building at all times. Families are responsible for providing a proper cloth face covering/mask for their student(s). 

2. All classrooms desks will be physically distanced at 6 feet spacing. 

3. Students will be in cohorts, (kept together) with their classroom teacher to prevent movement among groups. 

4. We have added a new 1-2 grade class to insure smaller class sizes. 

5. Most specialist will be eliminated to start and then gradually brought back into the schedule. 

6. All students will be screened by the school and classroom teacher daily for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 including temperature checks.

 7. Recesses will be staggered by classroom teachers to allow for proper physical distancing 

8. Breakfast/Lunch will be eaten in the classroom.

 9. A distance learning option will be available for families who choose not to send their student(s) to school for in-person instruction. 

For more information, visit the district website.

Note: This story is updated as schools release details on their reopening plans.

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