The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Educators struggle with lessons in time of quarantine


It’s been nearly three weeks since Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced statewide school closures, and Wahkiakum School District and Naselle Grays River Valley School District are continuing to make adjustments, especially in finding new ways to provide an education to their students from a distance.

“I guess you could say we are learning to fly the plane as we go,” Naselle Grays River Valley School District Superintendent Lisa Nelson wrote in an email on Tuesday. “We have been serving 130 meal packets a day. A ‘meal packet’ consists of lunch for the specific day and breakfast for the next day, which essentially equates to 260 meals a day. We do this every weekday and deliver the meals to our designated drop-off locations.”

The district plans to continue the delivery of meals over Spring Break, which is April 6-10.

“The staff wanted to make sure there was no disruption in the meal deliveries,” Nelson wrote.

“We really miss the kids! These are very trying times for everyone, indeed. Staff have been working extra hard to take food orders, prepare and deliver it, plan meaningful lessons, reach out to students and parents, keep our buildings clean, etc. Most definitely, we are faced with many new challenges almost daily in how we go about educating our students.”

“Administratively, we have been working hard to stay on top of the information flow and make adjustments as they come from the Governor's office or the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).”

"New rules and information come out weekly, and in some cases, daily. One thing for sure, we are all in this together. It takes a village as they say. I know the parents are working extra hard too, trying to keep everything together for their families.”

"This time away has challenged us at the school to become better at what we do. Staff are learning new educational tools and incorporating technology in some ways, like never before. While new learning experiences are difficult and challenging for staff, we can only imagine what the parents and children are going through.”

“We’ve got more volunteers than work right now,” Wahkiakum School District Superintendent Brent Freeman said. “We delivered more than 200 meals in the first week and 458 meals in the second week and we expect that number to go up again this week.”

They will continue to provide and deliver meals over Spring Break, which begins this Friday.

“Staff realizes that feeding the kids is important,” Freeman said.

There are currently 13 employees considered to be essential working at the school right now, manning phones in the morning, making meals, and providing custodial support. Teachers and other staff are working from home, meeting in teams and with principals periodically via Zoom, as they have begun to roll out a bigger effort to engage students after the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction said that education must continue despite the suspension of classes.

Every teacher is trying to engage with every student, Freeman noted. They have been calling, using Facebook and Zoom to engage students, providing reading and writing assignments and more. One teacher has even used Facebook to read to her young students. K-8 teachers are providing packets for their kids.

Freeman shared an anecdote about a teacher who used Zoom to give a quiz to his students, only to have the whole thing fall apart in a comic manner.

“It’s all new using the technology to interact with students,” Freeman said. “There is a learning curve, but it’s being tackled with humor. Plus it’s teaching everyone coping skills, including the students, learning to deal with the technology and a new situation.”

They haven’t figured out exactly how they are going to provide education to Special Education students, but they are working on it. The teacher and the para-educators have begun to reach out, and some parents have expressed a willingness to be that helping hand at home.

“We’re focusing on what we can do instead of what we can’t,” Freeman said. “Most of our kids will be mostly ready to advance if they stay engaged.”


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