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Seattle School Board votes to begin fall classes remotely

The sleep patterns of students at Roosevelt High School were studied before and after the district pushed start times later in the fall of 2016. (Photo: James Urton)

The Seattle School Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to begin the fall academic year remotely, as districts continue to grapple with how to restart classes amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The plan passed by the board leaves the door open for the creation of outdoor in-person classes, and will still need to be negotiated with the teachers union to suss out the specifics of how fully remote learning will look in practice. Exceptions to the virtual learning model will be made for students in need of special education services.

Every school district across Western Washington has a different set of challenges for reopening in the fall of 2020 as it navigates the effects of coronavirus on students and staff. The state Office of Public Instruction has given the districts general guidelines based on data from health officials, but has left the details up to each district.

MyNorthwest has put together a reopening tracker so that it’s easier to compare districts’ plans as they develop. Many districts are trying to solidify their plans early so that families have time to prepare. This tracker will change as they meet those deadlines.

(Please note that this is a snapshot of each district. This is in no way is a comprehensive deep dive into each district’s plans and timeline.)

King County

Auburn School District

From the superintendent: Though we have been focused the past two months on preparing for a modified in-person return to school for the fall, I need to inform you we will begin the school year in a full distance learning model in September. We will not initially be returning with in-person instruction. Read more.

Bellevue School District

Bellevue School District will begin school this fall with remote learning for all families. Our plan is to evaluate the remote start for all after the first six weeks of school.

Families that opted to participate in a Hybrid Learning model will begin school in a Temporary Remote Learning model with the plan to move to the Hybrid Learning model when infection rates are significantly lower.

There is no change for the families that opted to participate in the BSD Virtual Learning model for the first semester. Read more.

Enumclaw School District

Enumclaw School District, in partnership with neighboring districts, will begin school this Fall with a 100% remote online model. We know there is no replacement for students experiencing learning with others and from teachers in a face-to-face setting, however, our focus remains on the health and safety of our students and our staff.  Read more

Federal Way School District

FWPS, like most of the surrounding districts, has decided to start the 2020-21 school year providing 100% remote learning.

We will be working with Public Health – Seattle & King County to monitor when we can reopen schools with our hybrid model. If the rate of infection has diminished, and face-to-face instruction is supported by public health guidelines, we will be prepared to transition to our hybrid model with two days of face-to-face instruction and three days of remote instruction each week. Read more.

Highline School District

Highline Public Schools announced it will start the school year in distance learning, with this message to families from Superintendent Susan Enfield.  (Read more):

Issaquah School District

Over the past few months and in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year, district leadership and our instructional, scheduling and safety work groups have been working to develop a robust and engaging online education experience for students. To that end, we can assure you that teaching and learning will look different this September than it did during last spring’s emergency remote learning. In collaboration with the Issaquah Education Association (IEA), we are excited to share with you what all students and families can expect this school year during remote learning. Read more.

Kent School District

Kent will begin the 2020-21 school year on August 27, 2020, with remote learning. Read more.

Lake Washington School District

Lake Washington students will be starting the 2020-21 school year learning in a fully remote setting. Read more.

Mercer Island School District

I made the recommendation to the School Board that the Mercer Island School District begin the 2020-21 school year with a remote learning model. The health and safety of our students, staff, parents and community consistently guided our decisions in the spring and continue to do so now. Therefore, all students from our youngest preschool students through our adult transition students should be preparing for full-time remote learning. Read more. 

Northshore School District

At this time, we plan for our students to begin the 2020-21 school year with a more robust and flexible 100% distance learning model through Northshore Learns 3.0, using a staged approach for in person re-entry to school. Read more.

Renton School District

Renton School District will begin the 2020-2021 school year with fully in-home learning. At this time, we cannot predict how long we will remain in the in-home learning model. However, we will continue to monitor infection rates and rely on public health guidance to determine when we can reopen our school buildings to students. Read more.

Riverview School District

After reviewing information from Public Health – Seattle & King County, ongoing collaboration with surrounding school districts, and analyzing potential school re-opening options, the Riverview School District is planning to open the 2020-21 school year in a Remote Learning Model (referenced as Plan A). Read more.

Seattle School District

The Seattle School Board voted on Aug. 12 to begin classes remotely in the fall. The board recommended that Seattle Public Schools continue this model until the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 cases has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction. A task force will monitor progress, implementation and efficacy of the reopening plan and remote learning model, and to advise the Board and Superintendent throughout the 2020- 2021 school year. A second task force will make recommendations related to, the implementation of community schools and outdoor education in Seattle Public Schools.

Shoreline School District

From the superintendent: Last night, I presented an update to the Board and shared that I will be recommending that we open Shoreline Schools in remote status this fall. You can find that presentation here. The Board will meet on August 3 in a special meeting to consider this recommendation. Once they have made a decision, I know in the coming days and weeks, we will work together as a community to come together and rise to the challenges we face even as we support each other in community.

Snoqualmie Valley School District

From the superintendent: The School Board approved my recommendation to focus our efforts on supporting full time remote learning for all students, when school starts on August 31, 2020. This is a change from our district’s initial plan (shared July 8) that included a combination of remote learning and in-person/hybrid options, with social distancing in classrooms and other significant safety precautions as required by the state and public health. Read more.

Tahoma School District

The Tahoma School Board voted unanimously to begin the 2020-2021 school year remotely, during a special meeting tonight. Additional information about reopening will be sent to families next week. Read more.

Tukwila School District

From the superintendent: Based on the current trajectory of infections in King County, I will be recommending to the school board that Tukwila School District start the 2020-21 school year in a distance learning model. Read more

Vashon Island School District

From the superintendent: With the significant number of high risk staff we have in critical positions, the task of reopening schools in-person is compounded even further. I am saddened to announce that we plan for our students to begin the 2020-21 school year with a more robust and flexible 100% distance learning model. At the same time, we are continuing to explore options to increase our outdoor spaces and examine the possibilities of one or two day in-person outdoor education for small groups of students. Read more.

Kitsap County

Bainbridge Island School District

Students enrolled in the Hybrid Learning Model will begin their school year in a Continuous Learning (distance learning) environment; Bainbridge Island School District teachers will provide the instruction. Note: There may be exceptions for students with special education whose disabilities significantly impact their access to an online learning environment. Decisions regarding the implementation of a student’s IEP will be determined by his/her IEP team. Read more.

North Kitsap School District

We had to make the difficult decision to start the school year in Full Distance Learning.  Read the update from Superintendent Evans for the details on this decision.

We will re-assess the conditions in our local area and work with our local and state health authorities at the end of the first quarter (in nine weeks). If it is safe to do so, we will plan for in-person instruction in the Hybrid In-Person model. School will be very different in order to keep students, staff and families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central Kitsap School District

From the superintendent: We will begin the 2020-21 school year in a fully remote learning model for at least the first nine weeks. At that point, we will reassess the situation. We are determined to return to in-person instruction as soon as it’s safely possible. In the meantime, I want to clarify that this fall’s remote learning model is not the same model we experienced last spring. We have developed an improved, more robust remote learning experience that will have increased expectations for student participation, more consistency for delivery of content, and better feedback to students and families. here.

Bremerton School District

From the superintendent: I am announcing that Bremerton School District, along with many other schools in Kitsap County and around the state, will be starting the 2020-21 school year with 100% remote learning. At this time, we cannot predict how long we will remain in this 100% remote learning model. We will continue to rely on public health guidance in monitoring community health and reassess the situation in November which is half-way through the first semester. We are determined to return to in-person instruction as soon as it’s safely possible. Read more.

South Kitsap School District

Based on current state guidelines, we won’t be able to accommodate all students in school buildings at the same time. Our draft plan offers two options to families if we are not able to return to school full time. Families choose between two options: SK Flex or SK Online. Read more.

Snohomish County

Arlington School District

Last night, the Reopening Arlington Schools 2020 (RAS20) District Committee, comprised of students, staff, parents and community members, finalized a recommendation proposing a six step reopening plan for Arlington Public Schools for the 2020-21 school year. The recommendation includes beginning the school year on step three with enhanced distance learning 2.0 for all students which will be greatly improved from the distance learning that took place in the spring and will include teacher and parent training. Read more.

Darrington School District

We will plan on starting the school year with a remote learning model. Current projections would place Darrington in a remote learning model through at least the first academic quarter (November 6, 2020). The school board will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, August 12, to review the Reopening 2020 plan. Read more.

Everett School District

At this time, we plan for our students to begin the 2020-21 school year in a 100% remote model, using a staged approach for in-person reentry into school buildings. Remote learning in September will look quite different than it looked in the spring. We heard your feedback loud and clear and are making adjustments and improvements to the remote learning model. You will hear more about schedules, attendance, grading and expectations after the final plan is approved by the School Board in August. There will also be a Parent University later in August to support families’ needs and understand the remote learning model. Read more.

Edmonds School District

From the superintendent: I believe the best course of action for Reopening Edmonds Schools 2020 is to reopen with all students in the fully remote learning model of Continuous Learning 2.0.

Below we are providing the approximate dates for a possible return to in-person learning. Please keep in mind, however, that the health authorities and COVID-19 will ultimately make these decisions and we will adjust as needed.

Approximate dates to transition to in-person learning, if it is safe to do so:
Nov. 12, 2020
Feb. 3, 2021
April 14, 2021 Read more.

Granite Falls School District

As our reopening committee plans for next year, the highest priorities will be student and staff safety while in school and devising a rigorous online presence. We are planning to resume school with students in our buildings but there are a number of conditions by the OSPI and Department of Health in order for that to happen. All guidance may be found at this website. The re-opening committee will follow these guidelines as Plans A, B and C are developed. Check the Facebook page.

Lake Stevens School District

We will begin the 2020-21 school year with distance learning only, on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Detailed information will be shared in the coming weeks to assist with this transition. Read more.

Marysville School District

In the Marysville School District, we plan to open with a plan called “Continuous Learning 2.0” that will have a three-prong approach based on health and safety and the primary considerations developed by the community workgroup: We will start the year with at-home learning (distance learning), then when safe to do so, move to a hybrid model (part in-person, part at-home learning, and eventually return to 100% in-person learning). Read more.

Monroe School District

Monroe School District will start the 2020-21 school year with distance learning on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. It is our ultimate goal to have all students in our buildings as soon as it can be safely done. Detailed information will be shared in the coming weeks to assist with this transition. MSD families, please keep an eye on your email and the district website for updates. Read more.

Mukilteo School District

Students in the Mukilteo School District will begin the 2020-21 school year in a distance learning model. Distance learning in September will look quite different than it looked in the spring. We heard your feedback and are making adjustments and improvements to this learning model. You will hear more about schedules, attendance, grading and expectations in the coming weeks. Read more.

Northshore School District

At this time, we plan for our students to begin the 2020-21 school year with a more robust and flexible 100% distance learning model through Northshore Learns 3.0, using a staged approach for in person re-entry to school. Read more.

Snohomish School District

Our School Board voted to begin the 2020-2021 school year in the Snohomish School District in a remote learning model for all students in grades K-12. We pledge that remote learning this September will look very different than the spring. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about schedules, attendance, grading and expectations. Students and families will also receive more information and support to make sure they have what they need to be successful in the remote learning model. Read more.

Stanwood-Camano School District

The Stanwood-Camano School District will provide Continuous Learning 2.0 for all families beginning September 3, 2020. Changes to Continuous Learning have been made since last spring. Read more.

Sultan School District

While we all recognize that in-person instruction is the preferred method for delivering education, the safest feasible option to resume school in the fall will be to start in Level 2: distance learning with in-person, on campus learning time for designated students. 

Pierce County

Bethel School District

To begin the 2020-21 school year, the Bethel School District will return to school via 100% online learning in order to ensure the health and safety of students, staff and families. Staff have been preparing for an improved digital learning experience and will be prepared to provide quality online instruction to students as we begin the year.   Read more.

Carbonado School District

It is Pierce County Health Department’s recommendation, based on COVID-19 cases in OUR county RIGHT NOW, that it would be unsafe to open schools in early September. Here is the link.
However, that recommendation could change as time goes by and before school reopens.

Clover Park School District

The task force has developed a plan for face-to-face learning on site for all students, a hybrid model that alternates learning time in school and at home, and a remote learning model in which students will learn at home.  Based on current state and health department requirements, the district will begin the school year using a hybrid learning model.  A final plan will be shared with families in early August. Read more.

Dieringer School District

With the information that our county health department did not feel it was safe to bring students back into our buildings, we can now plan for a start to the school year that is fully online.  You can read more about this conversation and Dr. Chen’s thoughts on starting school here.

Eatonville School District

Our faculty have committed to maximizing in-person instruction this fall by using the innovative CORE 4 and Google Classroom approach, which emphasizes strategies for inperson, hybrid and flexible course designs. This approach will allow students to engage with class activities and assignments no matter their individual circumstances. The specific implications of this approach will depend upon class size, a teacher’s ability to be in the classroom, and other particular needs of the class. Other details include:
–Students who for health reasons need to access all of their course content online will be able to do so.
–Our plans will be finalized upon ESD School Board approval and submitted to OSPI and State Board of Education for final review. We intend to publish our models by August 4, 2020.
–Decisions are still being made concerning more specialized instructional areas.
–Should the public health situation deteriorate in the fall such that all in-person classes are suspended for a period of time, teachers will be prepared to deliver course content exclusively online.

Read more.

Fife School District

From the superintendent: Based on the COVID-19 disease activity in Pierce County and our region, I do not feel it is safe to open schools in September for traditional classroom learning.

The situation could change, and I may change my recommendation at a later date. I am offering this recommendation at this time to respect our local school districts’ needs to plan and make decisions to have time to implement. Schools should still plan for onsite and hybrid models that districts could implement if the situation improves.” Read more.

Franklin Pierce School District

While there are still many unknowns, we envision an option for full remote learning for students with medical conditions that prevent them from attending school. Read more.

Orting School District

We will move forward with plans to reopen with a distance learning model in September while continuing to plan for a rotating A/B schedule model to implement later in the year if the situation improves. Read more.

Peninsula School District

For Fall 2020, Peninsula School District will plan for almost all students to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a full remote learning model, called Remote Learning 2.0, when classes start on September 8, 2020; and bring students back for in-person learning later this year if possible. Read more.

Puyallup School District

From the superintendent: School will start on Sept. 3 in a full-time Continuous (Distance) Learning model 2.0. I acknowledge this decision is not ideal and will result in challenges for everyone, but we must prioritize the health and safety of students and staff based on the current guidance from our public health officials. Read more.

Steilacoom Historical School District

On July 23, Dr. Chen, Pierce County Health Department Director, released a public statement that said in part, “it is not safe to start school face to face in the fall with the community transmission rate so high.”  Therefore, our district will be starting the 2020-21 school year in a remote learning environment. Read more.

Sumner School District

SBLSD schools will begin the 2020-21 school year in a distance learning format. Learn more in this message from Superintendent Laurie Dent.

Tacoma School District

We will immediately shift gears and begin preparing for remote learning when school begins Sept. 9, Superintendent Carla Santorno told the School Board Members during a virtual public meeting Thursday night, July 23. She will present the remote learning plan to the school board at its next meeting. Read more.

University Place School District

We have decided to postpone implementation of our hybrid learning model until at least January of 2021. All UPSD schools will open in a fully online model on September 8th. Read more.

White River School District

White River schools will start this fall with every student in distance learning. Fortunately, our experiences at the end of the last school year, the survey responses, and the parent focus groups have all served to provide us with valuable information on how to improve the distance learning experience. Read more.

Please let us know if you have updated information about your district – [email protected]

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