Spokane Area Schools Slowly Transitioning to In-Person Learning

Feb 18, 2021

Nine Mile Falls School District is one of several area school districts that's cautiously transitioning younger students back to in-person learning.
Credit Courtesy of Nine Mile Falls School District

Spokane area school districts are heeding the call of Governor Inslee and President Biden to bring more students back to school.

Most, if not all, have had at least some children attending since day one of the academic year. But now individual districts are moving at their own pace in easing in older students or expanding the number of days in the classroom.


March 1 is a popular date for Spokane area school districts to implement changes. That’s the day Central Valley and West Valley will add a second day-a-week for in-person instruction for middle and high school students.

Nine Mile Falls also has changes planned then, says Superintendent Brian Talbott.

“We are, beginning March 1, we’re bringing our Kindergarten through second back four-days-a-week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Wednesday utilizing that for the online kiddos,” Talbott said.

February has also been a big month for change, as districts made the transition from fall to spring semesters.

Spokane Public Schools recently brought back fifth and sixth graders on a rotating day schedule. It also has plans for middle and high school students that it will address during a pair of webinars for parents next week.

Cheney’s seventh through 12th grade students will settle in for a second day next week. Medical Lake brought its middle and high school students back twice-a-week the first of this month.

Talbott says Nine Mile Falls wishes it could bring older children back more quickly.

“The one thing that stands in our way from being able to utilize our time better is the six foot of distancing,” he said. “That is the dragon that we cannot slay.”

The governor announced on Tuesday that the state will offer in-school testing for up to 50 districts in addition to about a dozen that have been part of a pilot project. Talbott says he might be open to it.

“I would be interested in anything that gets our kids back in a safe manner. I don’t want to go rogue,” Talbott said. “We have the health and safety of our students and their families as well as our staff.”

That means, as long as the coronavirus remains an issue, younger children will get more face time with their teachers, while the older students will have to settle for occasional contact with their peers and teachers.