Greetings River Students and Families:

Admittedly, I was very optimistic for our return to school until I heard the governor’s decision to continue (closure) for the remainder of this school year. Strangely, I was in a Zoom “Digital Drop In” meeting with the River Faculty at the moment Governor Jay Inslee declared: All learning for the remainder of this school year will take place through remote means.

Our stay in place orders, the closing of schools, and variety of new protocols for simply being around other people puts strain on individuals and families. As we move forward, my hope is that the connection you have with the Columbia River High School faculty is an effective support to the work each of us must do in helping one another now and in the future.

River parents:
Unprecedented times require unprecedented patience, understanding, and meeting of individual needs. Please reach out to school personnel if you need help navigating something at this time. We have access to information that can be very helpful to those who may be struggling and we can direct you to resources that could be a lift to burdens you may feel.

Parents, you are the most important support for our students. We are grateful for the work you do each day to help them be successful. Although most of the communication with teachers will come directly from your student, emails should be arriving in your inbox – such as this one. We ask you to reach out to our staff when in need of additional information, clarification or support at any level.

River students:
With the closing of school through June, there are even more questions that we will need to get answered. Here is a short list of initial answers that you may be looking to know.

  1. What about mental health support or if someone is in need now? Many Students and Parents that are struggling with the cancellation of school and social distancing/stay at home orders that would like some ongoing support can reach out to our intervention specialist, Echo. will continue to provide coping skills and other social/emotional support groups for students via Zoom and can provide some parent support and education around how to support students during this time with parents and families. Please encourage your students to check their student emails daily for updates from Echo and other members of our Guidance Counseling Team around support groups.
  2. “I don’t have my interactive notebook; it is still in the classroom”… “I don’t have reliable WiFi”..and other hiccups…Please contact the teacher directly and arrangements or accommodations will be made. We will ensure all proper social distancing protocols will be followed when picking items up from school. Related questions: please contact me:
  3. How am I supposed to earn the credits needed to Graduate? Although we are learning remotely, and there are many details to be worked out in the weeks and months ahead, my initial information is that students must stay engaged with school and to work with their teachers to earn the required credits for this semester to move toward graduation. DO NOT STOP WORKING. If you were previously doing well, great. If you were struggling in a class, there is time and means to earn all the credits needed for this semester.
  4. What about Credit Recovery? to help toward graduation, there is no change in your plan. Complete it. All credit recovery can still (and actually is designed to) be done via remote learning.
  5. What if I Need/ Should have been in a credit recovery course, please contact one of our school counselors right away.
    • Seniors: Class of 2020:
    • Juniors: Class of 2021:
    • Sophomores: Class of 2022:
    • Freshman: Class of 2023:
    • The best course to stay on track toward graduation is to stay focused with your current schedule until the end. Communicate closely with teachers and counselors about any needs or questions along the way. My hope is that every student who engages from here forward will earn the credits needed for this semester and that any credit recovery needs are also accomplished in this time.
  6. Graduation ceremony? Prom? Dr. Webb, Superintendent for VPS, is committed to having some format for commencement. I have been inspired by his optimism and have total confidence that some form of these “rites of passage” events will take place for our high schools. As you well know, at River, traditions matter to us and we love pomp and circumstance. What these events will look like and when they willl happen will be made more clear in the next few weeks.
  7. Lessons? Classes? You should have already heard from teachers. If you have not yet, you are encouraged to take a peek at our “Look Book” to ascertain good contact information. Please contact your grade level administrator if you need assistance:
    • Class of 2020:
    • Class of 2021:
    • Class of 2022:
    • Class of 2023:
    • Teachers have published critical information, including assignments to be completed, the best ways and times to get questions answered, and if they will have any face to face times for their classes. There will be one time window each week, for each class, that your student will have an opportunity to engage in learning. We will work diligently to ensure that overlap between classes is minimized. You can expect a weekly update being sent to your student (typically on Monday’s) with what the learning plan is for that week.
  8. What if my student needs a textbook or other materials? What if my student is starting to feel overwhelmed or our family is struggling balancing this new way of learning? This is going to happen, please communicate with your teacher immediately. We are all going to need to give each other grace and to recognize that nobody chose to be in this new circumstance. The more communication your student has with her/his teacher, the easier it will be to make adjustments to help alleviate burdens and remain connected to the learning.
  9. What if my student did not finish forecasting? Please contact the grade level counselor directly to ensure that forecasting is completed for next year.
  10. International Baccalaureate Exams & other external assessments such as the SAT have been cancelled. This brings even more value to the daily work done in the classrooms by students that will be informed by the amazing River Faculty. IB Teachers have been tasked with uploading all internal assessments for our students, which are currently in progress. As you know, with seven (7) IB examiners on our staff, we will be able to submit internal assessment products that will afford our students appropriate recognition for their distinguished academic accomplishments. Many IB teachers will be giving MOCK IB exams this May. These mock exams will be held remotely and will be scored by the teacher for internal grade purposes only.

This covers the “Big 10” that have come to me over the last couple of weeks. The State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction under Chris Rykdal published resources you may be interested in reviewing or tuning in to watch.
In closing, I know there will be challenges ahead – some we have not even identified yet. I also know that if we continue to work together and demonstrate our collective focus and resilience, we will make our way.

Take care,

Alex Otoupal
Principal/ Head of School