During Tuesday evenings school board meeting, the Pasco School District voted unanimously to begin classes online, and will only be bringing into class small groups of what are called "at risk" students. These would be special needs students, presumably in groups of only 5.This could possibly include other academically at risk children as well.

Following in the tracks of Richland, Kennewick (whose vote was 3-2) and Finley, Pasco voted to begin online.

While the vote was unanimous, board members flatly stated what many are starting to realize: Teachers, educators, parents, students, even school board members, have essentially no control over this. A bold, open, straightforward statement was made about whose decision it was to re open online.

According to board member Steve Christensen, “I think it’s important that people understand … the decision is being made by our state Department of Health. While this may appear to be a local decision, that is not the case.”

The Pasco Superintendent, Michelle Whitney said the decision came after a recommendation from the health officer of the Benton Franklin Health District, as well as input from the district's insurance company.

The letter in question was from Dr. Amy Person, who sent it to area school districts and school boards on the eve of most of their votes whether to re-open in class or not.

That letter read in part:

The Benton Franklin Health District understands the important roles the schools play in providing quality education, social emotional learning, addressing special needs and providing assistance meeting basic needs. However, we also believe that protecting the health of our students and schools staff should be a priority.

“At this time, I do not recommend schools reopen on Sept. 1, 2020 for in-person instruction, except for consideration for small groups, smaller than five, to support educationally at-risk students (with special needs.)”    

That reference to special needs is what Pasco is referring to with the groups of five students.

So, reading this for what it is, it appears students, parents, even educators, have ultimately had no say in how schools will re-open.

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