What will Seattle Public Schools do this fall? 3 scenarios under consideration

By the time Seattle Public Schools‘ unexpectedly hybrid year ends on June 19th, it’ll announce how next school year will look. Today’s announcement says three scenarios are being considered:

Seattle Public Schools this week begins an intensive three-week project designed to create an adaptable plan for the 2020-21 school year and student re-entry this fall.

The project – “Learning Plan – Returning to School Fall 2020” – is comprised of four “engagement teams” which will consider a wide range of factors as they deliberate over seven meetings between June 4-16.

The teams will present their recommendations to the project leadership group, which will announce a decision on June 19, 2020. At that time, the decision will be communicated to staff, students and families.

Three scenarios will be explored by the engagement teams:

• Pre-kindergarten to 5th grade students attend school in-person full-time; students in grades 6-12 on an A/B schedule, receive part in-person learning and part remote learning;
• PK- 12th grade students on an A/B schedule, receive part in-person learning and part remote learning;
• 100% remote learning.

Engagement teams will be tasked with determining an adaptable plan that:

• Mitigates and minimizes the spread of coronavirus;
• Keeps students and staff safe;
• Prioritizes access to learning for students furthest from educational justice;
• Provides services through a racial equity lens;
• Enables staff and students to return to learning;
• Supports social-emotional well-being and safe environment interactions;
• Supports families through this transition.

The planning process will be guided by the tenets of Seattle Excellence, the district’s strategic plan, and will explore safety requirements, delivery of remote instruction to various student groups, and budget constraints. The process will include feedback gathered in recent staff, family, and leadership surveys.
Engagements teams will prioritize staff and student health and safety, following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and public health agencies, while continuing to focus on high quality teaching and learning.

The four representative engagement teams are comprised of school leaders, parents, SEA members, partners, students, and central office staff. Each team will be comprised of approximately 18 members (details are still being finalized).

The project’s swift timeline is purposeful, in order to provide educators with as much time as possible to begin preparing. Staff will receive the final decision for re-entry plans before they depart for the summer.

This year’s last day of in-person SPS classes was March 11th.

34 Replies to "What will Seattle Public Schools do this fall? 3 scenarios under consideration"

  • Alan June 2, 2020 (8:10 pm)

    Protesting in massive groups: no problem!Going to church, sports, or school: unsafe?

  • Student June 2, 2020 (8:27 pm)

    What is the reason for possibly having elementary school kids go to school full time but not letting middle and Highschool students go full time? I understand it’s easier for older students to do remote learning than younger kids, but if they are making it possibly for you her kids to go full time they should do the same for older students. Older students are also more capable of keeping their space, and greatly rely on the social scene and extracurriculars of highschool for their mental health. 

    • WS lady June 2, 2020 (9:16 pm)

      They have found that older students can get a great education learning remotely while younger kids just can’t learn on a computer and over Zoom as well. Younger kids really need that in person interaction with a teacher. 

    • Marianne June 2, 2020 (9:16 pm)

      I would imagine that in addition to older students being better able to manage remote learning, they can also take care of themselves outside of school.  

      • MercyMoi June 3, 2020 (2:42 pm)

        I’m with Marianne. As Phases open up, parents will either go back to work or need to be free from childbound duties to able to get new jobs. Younger kids can’t stay home by themselves. That’s my guess, anyway.Personally, I vote for an A/B schedule for everyone. It will be predictable for families to make plans around for a few months, and numbers will be more manageable in the schools.

    • MW June 2, 2020 (9:39 pm)

      I work at a neighboring school district and the idea behind the younger kids being in person and older kids online is: Elementary class sizes will be very small and this creates more classes. The elementary classes will be spreading out throughout the middle and high school buildings. Presumably (not always true) older children are more able to independently work online and at home whereas parents are often needed to be with the younger students to directly facilitate their online learning. This makes it hard for parents who are trying to remotely work. Older students can legally be left home alone whereas younger students can’t. This is the childcare aspect of in person school. 

      • Billy June 3, 2020 (8:05 am)

        Thank you, this explanation makes sense.

      • wsteacher June 3, 2020 (10:17 am)

        There has been no discussion about moving elementary kids to middle schools in SPS. Developmentally online school does not work well for most elementary aged kids. And like you said, childcare issues arise as well.

        • MW June 3, 2020 (12:53 pm)

          Thank you for clarifying this for SPS. I’m teaching in a nearby district and this is one of our possible plans. Apologies if my explanation added confusion. 

      • Trisha June 3, 2020 (10:40 am)

        But the plan where kids PK-5 kids go full-time includes part time for 6-12.  So they will not be able to spread out the elementary kids

    • Greg June 3, 2020 (6:22 am)

      Part of it is the number of kids in class and the structure of their day. They are by and large in the same room all day with fewer people. High school kids change rooms 5-7 times a day with thousands roaming the hallways. I imagine younger kids might also follow social distancing guidelines better? 

    • Kristina June 3, 2020 (12:37 pm)

      I’m a teacher in a neighboring district too, at the high school level. Here’s why I think it makes more sense for elementary to return but keep high school online:Elementary kids stay in one group of  25-30 kids all day. High school kids go to six or seven different classes a day, usually with 30+ kids per class, meaning that they’re exposed to 180+ kids a day. Also, high school students can be left at home while their essential worker parents go to work, but young kids can not. Also, high school passing period mixes the entire school up several times a day, with no social distancing.I miss my kids like crazy, and they learn so much better in person. But at the same time, I hope we’re online in the fall. The risks are just too great.

  • Bugsy June 2, 2020 (9:32 pm)

    After a total waste of 3.5 months of school this year–my son’s 5th grade teachers eventually conducted a few Zoom calls a week, but there was close to zero instruction, I am deeply concerned about next year.  There is no consistency across teachers & some just don’t want to be bothered with real remote instruction, and parents have no recourse.  Some teachers were amazing, but not my son’s! I was a teacher for many years & come from a family of teachers. I am NOT anti-teacher, but on-line learning allows for so little in terms of accountability. Who is going to make sure that ALL teachers actually teach? Not just do check in calls–they need to do actual instruction. Lots of teachers make it work, but what about the ones that don’t? SEA & SPS need to step up and make sure we don’t have another lost year…

    • WSMOM June 3, 2020 (8:10 am)

      We had a similar experience – one great teacher who engaged as much as possible – near daily zoom class meetings, consistent emails and a day of office hours to meet over zoom with kids or parents. The other teacher for my younger child seemed to do as little as possible. Why can’t the school mandate that all teachers have a set schedule at the same school. (I’ve put this question to the school too and was told “we are all doing what we can”.) (B.S.) We all know there is disparity in education between schools and different neighborhoods – shocking it also plays out within one school building. 

      • Anonteacher June 3, 2020 (11:45 am)

        I agree, I am a teacher and have seen my colleagues all provide varied services. The issue is with some teachers, yes… But also, we teachers, especially elementary teachers, have been ignored by the district. During the school year, the superintendent used to send out weekly emails to staff, since distance learning as started she has all but dissappeared. We are doing our best, but more often than not our school leaders are waiting for ANY instruction from district leadership. 

    • Mixed bag June 3, 2020 (9:10 am)

      I am a teacher and know it is a mixed bag of teacher quality with face-to-face learning not just online learning (do not infer from this comment that I am a stellar teacher).  I hope that as the reality of more and more technology enhanced learning sets in the low bar for what counts as teaching online will start to rise.  I am sure there will be a lot of variance in quality, but perhaps some of the lowest of lows will be better than now.

      • wsteacher June 3, 2020 (10:29 am)

        There was no specific direction given to the teachers at the school where I work. And at my child’s school there was a huge disparity for the first month and a half. But there is also a huge disparity of how many of our students will have parental support at home, which most elementary students needs for online learning. Not one teacher in our school has ever been trained in online learning. We literally had a half a day to prep before school was unexpectedly closed. Everyone had to just wing-it and try to take care of their own families at home too. I’m sorry it has not been a great experience for you and your kids. It has been the worst teaching experience of the my career. 

        • CAM June 3, 2020 (1:43 pm)

          The teachers I know were scrambling to figure out how to teach online and were also attempting to care for their own kids during the day and home school their kids. It was an impossible task for anyone and some of the above criticism seems a bit harsh for the circumstances. I have yet to meet a teacher who did not work more hours than they were required to under normal circumstances so I think we need to just give everyone the benefit of the doubt right now. 

          • MW June 4, 2020 (8:48 am)

            Thank you Cam for the compassionate reminder. I myself was struggling to adapt to online teaching in a district that gave us zero training or notice before they shut down (although the writing was on the wall). My 18 month olds daycare closed (even to essential workers) and my partner worked out of the home 10 hours a day. It wasn’t easy wrangling and occupying my own child while trying to focus on teaching. I miss my students and community dearly and can’t want to teach in person again! I echo what Cam said- a little grace and kindness for all. 

    • Ms. A June 3, 2020 (2:24 pm)

      This has to be the worst teaching experience ever – both for parents and teachers.  We have 2 kids – middle school (7th grade) and elementary (1st grade).  After a few weeks, our middle schooler had regular classes/assignments and could navigate the tech difficulties on his own.  Our 1st grade teacher kept getting poor direction from SPS, the technology kept changing, and the expectations kept changing.  We were directed to use no fewer than 8 websites/electronic services for our 1st grader. Our family is lucky.  Both my husband and I were directed to work full-time from home.  We scrambled our schedules to help our 1st grader out because she CANNOT independently learn.  We also have the financial means to purchase (and did purchase) an iPad for our daughter because many of the apps/websites required by SPS were not supported on her Kindle.  We did not get a laptop from SPS until just a few weeks ago.   Plus, she stopped receiving IEP services (speech/language) because apparently her SPS speech therapist was not licensed to provide video services (and SPS did not request a waiver from Dpt of Lic).We are exhausted and teachers are exhausted.  SPS carries a lot of blame.  Access to technology is a BIG issue.  My niece (who is a middle school science teacher in McCleary) said they got out technology to ALL students in a matter of 2 days, and even wi-fi hotspots to kids who didn’t have internet at home.  She does regular daily classes, even figuring out how to do “labs” remotely with kids.  If one of the poorest districts in the state can manage to get tech to kids in 2 days, then Seattle should be able to do it too. This doesn’t solve the problem of elementary kids with remote learning – IT SIMPLY CANNOT BE DONE.

  • me June 2, 2020 (9:33 pm)

    If a lot of people are willing to do remote learning full time it would open up more spaces for those who don’t want to do it. I decided to do remote learning full time anyway for at least half the year next year, is anyone else planning on not sending their kids back either way?

    • WSMOM June 3, 2020 (8:16 am)

      If I had the option and was provided a decent curriculum, or at least a set of guidelines I might. Currently I don’t think it’s safe for them to go back to school. I am privileged in that I currently do not work outside the home but I know from experience it’s  a different story for people who work. I would like it to be an option! While my kids are missing out on the social aspect of school  I think that one of them may actually be learning more at home because he’s always needed more one-on-one time. Don’t we have to send them (legally) if the school building is open unless you’re approved to homeschool? 

      • WSB June 3, 2020 (10:13 am)

        If you are interested in online education for your child(ren), you can pursue it regardless of how this turns out. Our son spent 2 years of middle school online through a program that technically was part of another public school system elsewhere in Washington – and that was more than a few years ago – more options now.

        • Harper June 3, 2020 (2:57 pm)

          Would you be willing to share which program this was? WA Virtual Academies  https://wava.k12.com/ maybe?

          • WSB June 3, 2020 (5:20 pm)

            Yes, it was K12.com – which at the time was a Steilacoom School District program, though it seems they have since partnered with Omak. Our son did well and then re-entered SPS for 9th grade, attending and graduating from Chief Sealth IHS, and is close to finishing college.

      • ME June 3, 2020 (1:11 pm)

        It’s basically just a matter of filling out some forms if you want to home school, and you can do a program or you can make  your own program which is really cool if you have a child that’s interested in something they don’t offer at school. They used to also allow the home school kids to participate in any of the after school programs too, so I’m hoping we can still participate in the online programs that the school offers in addition to the homeschooling that we do but we’ll see. 

  • michelle June 2, 2020 (9:48 pm)

    The news in Europe are saying research shows that kids don’t transmit Covid-19 to others that easily… They just re-opened the schools over there, so we’ll see how that goes!

    • That’s promising June 3, 2020 (11:52 am)

      Hopefully we will take note of this follow suit! Let’s quit exhausting this and causing further stress on everyone.A special education teacher I spoke with shared this idea of having to be equal in teaching avenues. To have a one on one call with a student would be called unfair. I’m not sure this “all or nothing” is a wise approach… can’t provide individual support to one student in need unless they’re able to provide it to all. That’s gotta be frustrating!!

  • Mj June 2, 2020 (10:34 pm)

    Alan – I was thinking exactly the same thing.  

  • Greg June 3, 2020 (6:20 am)

    How do high school students do an A/B schedule and have it be any different than just a normal day? Is having 1,000 students walking through the halls different than 2,000 in terms of risks? Alan above — make an actual point rather than changing the subject. 

  • Susan June 3, 2020 (7:00 am)

    From parents I’ve talked with, they are lucky to get an hour per week from teachers and those are generally more of a check in then instruction.   I hope that is the exception and not the rule.  And with parents slowly heading back to work, how will they not only find time to educate their children but to supervise their children who may be home for another school year? And how does a district justify paying their staff fulltime wages when they are not providing fulltime services to their students?  I’m sure there are quite a few questions that don’t have answers yet.  

  • BMC June 3, 2020 (8:53 am)

    I believe having younger kids in school is to help parents that don’t have child care. 

  • S - In West Seattle June 3, 2020 (12:03 pm)

    The Seattle Public Schools are useless. I learned that any lost and found items have since been thrown out. It’s not like during these 2 months of being home those coats and stuff grow virus’s on them. Way to go SPS you might have thrown away someones only jacket. I have lost confidence in your ability to think rationally and to teach our children what is needed. But that is a different issue that I don’t want to get into. 

  • patrick June 4, 2020 (5:42 pm)

    What about sports :(

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