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Parents and teachers react to Vancouver Public Schools' plan for 100% remote learning

With a month to go before the start of the school year, a major public school district sets the stage for distance learning to start the school year.
Credit: Associated Press

VANCOUVER, Wash. — It will be all learning from home in the Vancouver Public Schools (VPS), starting September 1. Like several other districts in Clark County, VPS will recommend remote learning only for its more than 23,000 students to start the school year.

"It’s a bit of a relief, I guess, to know that’s what’s going to be the case," said Hudson’s Bay High School math teacher Peter Henrichs.

Henrichs has been teaching math in the district for thirteen years. He is glad to know about the plan.

"But also there’s still a bit of anxiety to figure out how to actually do what we’re supposed to do and hopefully do a better job than we did in the spring to actually make the education a better experience and so students can actually get something out of it," said Henrichs.

Vancouver Public Schools joins seven other districts sticking with remote learning this fall, including Evergreen, Camas, Washougal, Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield and Hockinson.

Each district says it has improved systems to make distance learning go better than last spring. But when school starts up, it certainly won't be as carefree as it was at Klineline Park Thursday afternoon. Many parents will struggle with how to work and have children at home. One big family of kids KGW spoke with is lucky to have grandma to help.

"We’re gonna have fun; it’s not gonna be tough," said Sherry Sigurdson.

The children have some feelings about it, too.

"I just like doing school from home because I just have more free time," said Jade, who is going into 4th grade.

"I do miss my teacher Mrs. Smith and I do miss my friends, but I do like being at home because then I get to see my grandma more," said Zoey, who will be a first grader.

And as for their dad, he has mixed emotions.

"I can see it one way, but it does put a burden on families; but it is what it is, I guess, we have to try to do the best we can," said Omar Betancourt.

Teacher Henrichs is also a father. He and his wife have four boys ages six, 10, 12 and 15. Like last spring, he'll be working on the parenting part, too.

"A couple of my boys can kind of self-manage but the younger ones not so much, so I gotta figure out what that balance looks like," said Henrichs.

The districts still need their school boards to approve their all distance learning plans. In Vancouver they’ll be talking about it next week and should be voting on approving it on August 11th.