Liberty Christian to open in person learning in September

RICHLAND, WA-Liberty Christian a private Christian school in Richland is one of a few schools in the Tri-Cities area that plan on opening in person this fall.

The school plans to open its doors for the first time since March on Sept. 2. Despite the rest of the schools in Richland learning remotely, Liberty Christian can open its doors because it is a private school and not apart of the Richland School District.

When students arrive, they are expected to wear a mask upon getting out of their vehicle. Temperatures will be checked when students get in the building. Passing period, lunches and recess will be staggered to adhere to social distancing. Students will go straight to class and in the hallway, they must follow a one-way path that is similar to a roadway. Once students get in the classroom the set up will look completely different than last year.

"We are putting up a lot of signage up, our classrooms are all with desk six feet apart," said Jim Cochran Liberty Christian's Superintendent. "In some places we have partitions, we got the faces shields, face coverings." 

Unlike other public schools in the county Liberty Christian only has around 450 kids in its entire K-12 enrollment. Some entire grades only have up to 20 students so each classroom can be social distanced easily due to the already small class size. The school feels that is one reason why they can safely open. They also want students to get the full experience that their school is centered around which is the Christian faith. 

"We know we are in a pandemic and we know there are these health issues," said Cochran. "But we are also taking a really hard look from our private Christian school mission standpoint that we are looking at spiritual health of our students, we are looking at the social and emotional health and we are looking at the cognitive gaps."

The school has been in constant communication with the Benton Franklin Health District about opening up. They say they have a contact tracing plan if a student were to get the virus. That plan includes quarantining students and staff who may have been potentially exposed to the virus. The school did mention if an outbreak were to occur on campus they would return to remote learning.