NEWPORT, Wash. — It may be October, but kids all over eastern Washington are getting ready to return to in-person learning. Newport School District families are looking forward to class.
The night before the first day of school has some rituals to it. Pick out an outfit, pack your school bag and get to bed early.
"Her big sister bought her that so that has to be our first outfit," said mother-of-three Rhiannon Stiner.
Stiner might be more excited for her kids to go back to school then they are. Her daughter Madison is a fifth grader at Sadie Halstead Middle School and will be returning to in person classes Monday.
"I am super ready for it," she said with a laugh. "I love my kids with all my heart, but they need that school and so does mom."
Transitioning to virtual learning was difficult for her.
"I am failing my children as a parent trying to be a teacher," she said. You think you can help them and you think you know what you're doing until you're in that position and you're like, 'I don't know what I'm doing.'"
"A lot of times I have asked my older daughter I'm like, 'Will you please help your sister because I do not know what is going on right now,'" Stiner said.
Makylie is a junior at Newport High School and returns to in person classes on Wednesday. Hunter is a freshman at Whitworth University, having missed his high school graduation due to the pandemic.
Madison was supposed to move to the middle school this year and was disappointed in heaving to learn online.
"She's a very loving child and so she mainly misses just that human interaction she misses seeing her friends," she said. "It's a whole new experience for her."
Newport School District has about 1,000 students, so she thinks they were able to more easily adapt to going back in person than bigger districts like SPS could.
COVID-19 cases in Pend Oreille County started to rise last week, according to Northeast Tri County Health District.
The risk is part of living, Stiner said.
"I know a lot of people worry about it and I do worry about it, I mean I don't want my kids to die or anything, I don't want them to be that sick," she added. "I almost would rather them get it and get over with, so if they get exposed to it, they get exposed to it."
Like many other schools in Washington, NSD has a safety protocol in place.
"I was kind of shocked they started this soon," she said. "But I am so glad."