Cheney Free Press -


'Overall, it was really smooth'

Return of middle, high school students takes place Feb. 1 in Medical Lake


Last updated 2/11/2021 at 10:52am

Paul Delaney

Medical Lake High School students walked through the doors to their building for in-person instruction for the first time last week since the Covid-19 pandemic drove schools to all-online learning in late March 2020.

MEDICAL LAKE - The long-awaited effort to return more students to in-person learning in the Medical Lake School District took another step on Feb. 1.

On that Monday students with last names beginning with letters A-K at both the middle and high schools stepped foot inside their respective buildings for the first time in some 10 ½ months. The following day students L-Z repeated that exercise, reconnecting with classmates for the first time since COVID-19 closed school buildings last March 13.

"Great" was the one word used by Director of Teaching and Learning, Kim Headrick, to describe what she and Superintendent Tim Ames witnessed as the two visited the high school last Monday. There was also an overall air of excitement from both students and staff, she said, adding "Overall, it was really smooth."

Both buildings are operating in what is being called a "Third Term" with students attending class based on their last names. A-K are in school Mondays and Wednesdays while L-Z attend Tuesdays and Thursdays with Fridays reserved for online classes.

"Basically, we're, we're completing a semesters of work in a quarter," Headrick explained. "Both the high school and the middle school are operating on approximately a three-period-day schedule."

Those groups, or "cohorts" as they are referred to, are generally operating with 15 students. "Maybe on the outside 18, depending on the size of the room and space," Headrick said, referencing the familiar six-foot rule of separation. And not every class is going to be split perfectly into that 15 number.

This is how things will look until after spring break - April 5 – 9 - when the fourth term starts, and students shift to periods four through six at the high school. Because of a slightly different schedule, the middle school will operate with periods 4-7 in the fourth term on April 12.

"On Wednesday, and Thursday, I got to go and hang out at lunchtime at the middle school," Headrick said of her boots-on-the-ground observations. "I mean, it you know, obviously different, but it was going well."

The ongoing work all points to a hopeful return this September to full in-person instruction.

"That would be our that would be our hope," Headrick said. "But we as we do that, as we look forward we're going to really analyze what has gone well." She added there are lessons that have been learned from the current situation and, perhaps, some things may continue because they are good practices.

Paul Delaney is a retired former Free Press Publishing reporter and can be reached at


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