Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Cheney schools to start fall online


Last updated 8/4/2020 at 8:25pm

Aug. 4 4:19 p.m. -- This story has been updated to reflect a press release issued today noting the district will start in stage 3 of its six-stage plan.

CHENEY -- The school district board of directors voted unanimously on Aug. 3 to begin the 2020-2021 school year with most students taking part in the remote learning phase of the district’s proposed six-step plan for reopening.

Under this stage three of the plan, students in the greatest need of support (educational justice) will receive in-person instruction.

The board also approved a new calendar for the school year, dividing the 180 days of instruction into four separate quarters and pushing back the opening of school from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8.

Superintendent Rob Roettger said his thinking had “evolved” over the past several weeks as administrators, teacher, staff and parents on various committees began the process of how to reopen in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Roettger said in a worst-case scenario, he felt K-5 students would be on campus while students in grades 6-12 would be in a hybrid instruction situation.

Couple weeks ago, it began looking like hybrid was the best situation for all students, then whether or not school would reopen at all as the coronavirus numbers in the state and particularly Spokane County began to rocket upwards in terms of positive cases, hospitalizations and most recently deaths.

“As we look at the information from the Department of Health, it’s just pointing to a direction that best case scenario at this point for the safety of our staff and our students and our families and our community is to open in a remote situation,” Roettger said. “It’s painful for me to say that. Our students and staff want to be on campus. Our families want to be on campus.”

Information presented at a special board meeting Monday night, Aug. 3, showed an evolving sense among parents and teacher for reopening in-person to a mixture of in-person instruction and online learning. A full plan for a reopening in stages will be presented at the Aug. 12 board meeting.

“We have to look at the health and safety of our staff, students and community first and foremost,” Roettger added.

Please see the Aug. 6 issue of the Cheney Free Press for more on this story.

John McCallum can be reached at

Author Bio

John McCallum, Managing Editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Cheney Free Press for over 20 years. He has received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories. He has been serving as editor of the Spokane Valley News Herald since March 2020.

Phone: 509-235-6184
Contact John McCallum


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