As the holidays approach and the pandemic drags on, the social and emotional wellbeing of students has become an important topic. This week, the Aberdeen School District announced it is developing a program of Health & Wellness Pods for students.
Superintendent Alicia Henderson said the new program is “a major undertaking, with no established plans in place from other districts that we can emulate. We are starting from scratch, but we wanted to announce it now so that our families can plan for their students to participate.” She is hopeful it will be up and running in early December.
The program will start with high school students. During a recent survey, many students commented how hard it is to endure this pandemic and focus on their coursework without access to school activities. “Reading those comments was difficult because we understand,” Superintendent Henderson said. “It’s also a fact that social and emotional wellbeing contributes to academic success, and we want all of our students to have the opportunity to be successful.”
The program will be open to enrolled students in the Aberdeen School District. Funding will come from local levy dollars.
Students will take part in pods of four with adult supervision and strict compliance with all of the latest Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) regulations. The maintenance staff is currently measuring outdoor spaces to see how many students can be on the premises at a time. The first activities will most likely be offered from Stewart Field.
“By following the WIAA rules, our student athletes will maintain their eligibility and will likely want to form pods within their various teams,” Superintendent Henderson noted. “But we want to be clear that this is not a return to athletics at this time, although we anticipate many of our athletes will want to participate. The health and wellness pods will be for all students regardless of participation in sports.”
Within each pod, students will be required to maintain six-feet of social distancing, and there must be 30-feet between pods, no shared use of items, outdoors only, and masks will be mandatory at all times.
Superintendent Henderson said more information will be forthcoming on or before December 4, but the district wanted to announce the decision now so that parents can encourage their students to take part when the time comes.
“There is some out-of-the-box planning taking place,” she said. “We are very excited about the enormous potential benefit for our students – socially, emotionally, physically and academically.”